Harry Dunn crash: Interpol issues international arrest for fugitive suspect, Anne Sacoolas, wife of US intelligence official as victim’s family demand justice – with tensions escalating b/w UK & the US.
At what expense denying a family their due process of justice?
The wife of a US intelligence official accused of killing British teenager Harry Dunn in a ‘motorbike accident’ is now a fugitive on the run after Interpol issued an international arrest warrant for her.
Nine months after the fatal crash, after which she fled Britain for the US, Anne Sacoolas, 42, is now the subject of an Interpol Red Notice.
Sacoolas is charged in the UK with causing the death of the 19-year-old by dangerous driving following a crash in Northamptonshire in August last year.
She claimed diplomatic immunity following the collision and was able to return to her home country, sparking tension between the UK and US.
At the time of her return to the US, the UK’s Foreign Office was made aware that the wife planned to leave the country and at the time hadn’t been preempted to leave the UK.
Nevertheless some four months later, Sacoolas was charged with causing death by dangerous driving in absentia in December.
Despite the levied charges against Sacoolas, a Home Office extradition request for Sacoola was rejected by the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in January.
The Home Office said the decision appeared ‘to be a denial of justice’.
The case sat moot until this week’s Interpol arrest warrant.
Tensions ensue in resolution of Anne Sacoolas legal immunity:
Interpol, an international organization that facilitates worldwide police cooperation, issued the warrant which means Anne Sacoolas would be arrested the minute she leaves US soil.
In an e-mail sent by Northamptonshire Police, Harry’s parents were told the suspect is ‘Wanted Internationally’ and ‘should she leave the USA the wanted circulations should be enacted’.
The teenager died following a car crashing into a motorbike he was riding outside the US military base RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire on August 27 last year.
The crash took place on the B4031, about 400 yards from the exit.
It is alleged the tragedy occurred as a result of Sacoolas driving on the wrong side of the road. Dunn died instantly.
At the time of the incident, Sacoolas’s husband was working as a US government employee at the United States Air Force surveillance listening station at RAF Croughton.
Initially, Sacoolas cooperated with police at the scene of the crash and was breathalysed.
The woman soon after claimed diplomatic immunity as the wife of US intelligence personnel and fled back to the US.
The US Government has maintained its position, that she had been granted diplomatic immunity during her time in the UK.
The motion sparked a row between the two countries with the Prime Minister’s official spokesman saying the US decision not to extradite her amounts to a ‘denial of justice and she should return to the UK’.
‘We have made this clear to the US including the Prime Minister to President Trump,’ they added.
Vying for resolution as US foreign office continues to hand over wanted woman:
The teenager’s parents Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn wrote a letter urging the US to hand her over.
Downing Street backed Harry’s parents in their plea to Donald Trump to review the decision to block an extradition request for their son’s alleged killer.
The letter, addressed to Mr Trump and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, sent earlier this month comes after it was reported that lawyers acting on behalf Sacoolas had opened up a dialogue with the Foreign Office to work towards a ‘resolution’.
Harry’s mother said she remains hopeful for a personal response from Trump to the letter, and that she believes the ‘door is slightly ajar’ despite the U.S. state department maintaining its position on her having diplomatic immunity.
A spokeswoman for the State Department reiterated its position that at the time of the accident, and for the duration of her time in the UK, Sacoolas had immunity from criminal jurisdiction.
She said the Foreign Secretary had made that clear in Parliament on October 21, 2019.
She added that since the accident occurred, the US had been closely engaged with the UK government and have been transparent about their positions on legal and diplomatic matters.
— Rod Bishop 💎 (@rodbishop15) May 11, 2020
— TomorrowsBritain (@TomorrowsBrita1) May 11, 2020
Justice for Harry Dunn
The parents took their campaign for justice to the US in October, two months after Harry Dunn was killed.
Foreign Office officials failed to inform Northamptonshire police that Harry’s alleged killer would be returning to the US after the crash in which he died, it was claimed last month.
In the days after Harry’s death, police say the Foreign Office told them Sacoolas had immunity and they would seek a waiver.
But over the following fortnight, Northamptonshire Police say they were not told about discussions in the UK about the legality of that immunity, according to ITV News.
The following day, a senior Foreign Office official purportedly sent a text message to their US embassy counterpart saying: ‘I think that now the decision has been taken not to waive [immunity] there’s not much mileage in us asking you to keep the family here. It’s obviously not us approving of their departure but I think you should feel able to put them on the next flight out…’
On Sunday, September 15, Sacoolas and her family flew back to America. Northamptonshire Police allegedly only found out she had gone in a foreign office call the next day.
Documents seen by ITV News say the senior investigating officer recalls being told Mrs Sacoolas had contacted Foreign Office officials days before leaving asking if there was anything stopping her and her family from going.
Harry’s mother, Charlotte Charles said she was shocked by revelations.
‘I’m really angry,’ she said. ‘It’s just beyond belief that given the number of times we’ve with met them. We should have been properly grieving in those first few months.
‘We should have been given the chance and we deserved the truth.
‘To send that in a text message. I mean seriously who the hell have we got running our country?’
Harry’s parents say they are unable to sue their son’s alleged killer due to a delay in police handing over an accident investigation report. It has also been claimed that Sacoolas – whom the US has refused to extradite to the UK – is ‘desperate’ to return to Britain to meet Harry’s parents but will not surrender to police custody.
Offerred Charlotte Charles on Monday, ‘I just want to urge Mrs Sacoolas to come back to the UK and do the right thing. Face justice and maybe then our two families can come together after the tragedy and build a bridge.’
Labour’s new Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy has accused Dominic Raab, UK First Secretary of State and the Foreign Office of ‘unforgivable failings’ over their handling of the tragic death of Harry Dunn.
Lisa Nandy said meeting Harry’s parents was a ‘heartbreaking reminder of the consequences of a system that protects itself first and puts a grieving family second’.
The case has since raised questions whether diplomats and their family members ought to be allowed immunity from criminal prosecution by the host country along with the effective diminution of culpability of their actions – especially as it pertains to serious crimes.
Allowing diplomatic immunity further raises the question of whether such status confers legal license to behave and act without regard or respect to the laws of host nations to the detriment of locals and whether such status ought to be re-evaluated.