Here’s what you need to know about the case against Anne Sacoolas and how the United States responded, Jasmine Razeghi reports.
Yesterday, UK’s Foreign Minister Dominic Raab rejected a “denial of justice” in response to the Trump administration’s refusal to extradite Anne Sacoolas, the driver responsible for killing 19 year old Harry Dunn.
Raab noted that it would be “unrealistic” to assume that the United States would extradite Sacoolas. He emphasized that Sacoolas must return to the U.K. for there to be justice. Further, Raab made it clear that she would willingly return to the U.K. and own up to her mistake in order to give Harry Dunn the justice he deserves.
On August 27, 2019, Harry Dunn rode his motorcycle in Northamptonshire and a car, driven by Anne Sacoolas, crashed into and killed him. Sacoolas’ lawyers admitted that she drove on the wrong side of the road. A source close to Sacoolas told Sky News that she is “terribly, terribly sorry for that tragic mistake”
As the wife of a U.S. intelligence official, Sacoolas claimed diplomatic immunity and returned to the United States. She since refused to return to the U.K., building tensions between those who want justice for Dunn and President Trump.
Meeting With President Trump
Tim Dunn and Charlotte Charles, the parents of Mr. Dunn, met with Donald Trump in early October 2019. He was described by the parents of Harry Dunn as “very gracious” and “welcoming”.
Dunn’s parents asked Trump to put himself in their shoes. Ms. Charles told reporters, “when he [President Trump] held my hand, I gripped it a lot tighter, and I was honest with him and just said, as I said a while ago, ‘if it was your son you would be doing the same as us’, he actually gripped my hand a little bit tighter and said ‘yes I would be’”.
Unexpectedly, Anne Sacoolas was in the room next door and the parents had an opportunity to talk with Sacoolas. They refused, Ms. Charles noting that Sacoolas must return to the U.K. to face the justice system. “We made it very clear, as we’ve said all along… we would still love to meet with her but it has to be on our terms and on UK soil,” she told reporters.
According to Ms. Charles, the President, “seemed to understand that the meeting needs to be with therapists and mediators in the room, and not just her and us”. Trump vowed to look at the case from a different angle after his meeting with the Dunns. While the President called Harry’s death a “terrible accident”, he noted that the United States would not extradite Anne Sacoolas.
Dunn Family Spokesperson Says “No One Is Above The Law”
By the end of October, Dunn’s parents said they plan on suing the Trump administration for lawless misconduct and a cover-up. They also planned on filing a civil case against Anne Sacoolas for her admitted dangerous driving.
Rad Seiger, spokesperson for the Dunn family, stated, “no one is above the law and the family are determined to ensure that this never happens to another family again. It will be Harry’s memorial. His legacy.”
Seiger accused the Trump administration of attempting “to twist and contort the laws on diplomatic immunity to argue that Ms Sacoolas should be permitted to skip the UK after her actions and escape justice.”
He went on to state, “that is not how it works and the family will not stand for it. They intend to take their case to federal court and expose the Trump administration’s actions here for what they are, a wanton and total disregard for the law.”
How Does Diplomatic Immunity Apply To The Spouse Of A Diplomat?
In 1961, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (VCDR) codified a legal tradition of diplomatic immunity that dates back to Roman times. Nearly every country in the world ratified the convention.
VCDR gives diplomats absolute immunity in criminal cases against them, as well as most civil and administrative actions brought by the country in which they are stationed. The VCDR extends immunity to the diplomats’ family members. In this case, family members refer to those who make up the household, including a spouse.
Since Sacoolas returned to the United States, her immunity remains questionable since she left her “receiving” country. As solely a diplomat’s wife, she cannot have immunity as she must be a part of the mission in order for “residual immunity” to apply. Currently, she may either have residual immunity or no immunity at all.
Today, the Dunns either wait for Sacoolas to return to the U.K. to face the justice system or hope that the U.S. will extradite Anne Sacoolas for her role in killing their teenage son.