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UK Charges Wife of US Diplomat Involved in Car Accident that Killed a Teenager

Representative image.

Representative image.

The case of Anna Sacoolas has been a thorn in London's close relations with Washington, stirring up debates over the limits of diplomatic immunity in cases unrelated to national security.

  • AFP
  • Last Updated: December 21, 2019, 9:35 AM IST
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London: British authorities on Friday charged the wife of a US diplomat who returned home after being involved in a car accident that killed a teenager.

The case of Anna Sacoolas has been a thorn in London's close relations with Washington, stirring up debates over the limits of diplomatic immunity in cases unrelated to national security.

It has been a political headache for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is cultivating trade relations with Washington in a bid to offset the potential damage of Britain's withdrawal from the EU.

Briton Harry Dunn, 19, died on August 27 when his motorbike and a car driving on the wrong side of the road collided.

Sacoolas admitted in October to being the driver, but has cited diplomatic immunity while refusing to return to Britain to face justice, as Dunn's parents demand.

Britain's Crown Prosecution Service said it has now authorised police in Northamptonshire, a central England region where the accident occurred, to charge Sacoolas in absentia with causing death by dangerous driving.

"The criminal proceedings against Anne Sacoolas are now active and... she has a right to a fair trial," chief crown prosecutor Janine Smith said in a statement.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called the charges "an important step" that should prompt Sacoolas to return to Britain.

"I hope that Anne Sacoolas will now realise the right thing to do is to come back to the UK and cooperate with the criminal justice process," Raab said in a statement.

Dunn's parents, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn, have urged US President Donald Trump's administration to extradite Sacoolas to Britain, to no avail.

Trump has called the crash a "terrible accident," saying it was common for Americans in Britain to have a hard time driving on the left side of the road.

Dunn's parents visited the White House October 15. They called Trump warm and welcoming but criticised the White House's attempts to engineer a snap meeting with Sacoolas, who was in a room next door with photographers.

The parent left without meeting Sacoolas, who was driving near a British airbase used by the US military as a communications hub.
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