For many folks their knowledge of “diplomatic immunity” is limited to the Mel Gibson / Danny Glover flick “Lethal Weapon 2″…
But diplomatic immunity is real, has existed for more than fifty (50) years and has been agreed upon by almost every country in the world, even those with “frosty” international relations such as North Korea and Venezuela. Diplomatic Immunity was signed into law under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations so as to ensure that diplomats could represent their respective nations abroad without being harassed by their host countries. The idea was to preclude political prosecution of diplomats for behavior which would not be criminalized in their home nation, but, naturally, there are always abuses of the system (i.e. here in the US it’s a common complaint that diplomats do not have to pay their parking fines like ordinary citizens would be required to do). Still, even for “petty” matters diplomatic immunity exists, it is extremely rare for such immunity to be waived and that can only happen with the agreement of the diplomat’s home country and, as you can imagine, most nations refuse to waive diplomatic immunity for anything, ever. For example, last year, a Venezuelan General who was wanted in the United States on drugs charges was arrested in Aruba, requested by the US but instead released after the Venezuelan government protested his diplomatic immunity and threatened sanctions if Aruba did not release him (you can read about that incident by clicking here). But I digress, so back to present day Beverly Hills…
On Saturday, September 12th, 2015, Beverly Hills residents witnessed two (2) luxury “Super Cars” (a yellow Ferrari LaFerrari and a white Porsche 911 worth millions) speeding around the residential neighborhood, running through stop signs and narrowly missing other vehicles.
There are witness claims that at points the cars were speeding at more than 100 mph and that one of the cars had even sideswiped the other. Many photos were taken and some video captured part of the scene as well. including the fact that the impromptu race only appeared to end when the engine of the bright yellow Ferrari began to billow out smoke and bulled back into the diplomat’s driveway (you can watch the video by clicking here).
Police officers arrived shortly after to investigate reports of racing but were told by the driver that he had diplomatic immunity. Although the diplomat admitted that he owned the super cars he denied speeding, running stop signs or driving recklessly. But at least one neighbor, Roya Levian, claimed otherwise stating: “The car was still smoking when the cops came. The kids were terrified and the neighbors were out and this woman was screaming ’cause her husband almost got run over.'” Per Roya, her ten (10) y/o Ashton was playing down the street when the cars raced by him and told his mom that he was “scared to go home” in case he was hit by the vehicles. In addition several local residents reportedly complained that the sports car driver had often used their streets as a racetrack, leaving them fearing for their safety. But the Beverly Hills Police Department took no action, indicating that the United States State Department is involved in the investigation into both the diplomatic status and the legality of the vehicles which were being driven on the road. Further, the BHPD stated that it had “assessed the video and could not take any law enforcement action such as a citation or arrest.” Video journalist Jacob Rogers, who was on scene and had captured the incident on video, said that he was confronted by a man who “told me verbatim, ‘I could have you killed and get away with it.’ [So] I told him, ‘the press is allowed to be here on the sidewalk on a public street.’ [and] He said, ‘F*** America’ and threw a cigarette at me.”
Memo to the State Department: Seriously? Look, I am all for good foreign relations but I am also for the concept of R-E-S-P-E-C-T. If it is true that the idea behind the whole diplomatic immunity concept was to avoid political prosecution then that makes sense, but WTF does that have to do with permitting (and in some circumstances encouraging) a complete and utter lack of common courtesy or basic decency or just merely exhibiting plain freaking manners? When I am a guest in someone else’s home I treat it very differently then I do my own. I go out of my way – mentally – to NOT put my feet on the furniture, to ask for a coaster, to request permission to enter the bathroom or for a drink of water… I don’t assume that I am free to act as I wish without consequence… and this hold’s true even when my host offers me free reign. This is basic socialization 101. Yeah, yeah yeah, I know that you didn’t ask for my opinion on this seemingly rich Qatari who apparently could give a f*ck about American citizens, their property, their way of life or even their lives, but here it is… “Behave or get the Hell out, because your diplomatic immunity, well….”
Michael A. Haber, P.A.: Creative, effective and zealous criminal defense advocacy since 1991.
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