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U.S. diplomat's wife to face UK court hearing over fatal car crash

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By Reuters
U.S. diplomat's wife to face UK court hearing over fatal car crash
U.S. diplomat's wife to face UK court hearing over fatal car crash   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021

By Andrew MacAskill

LONDON -The wife of a U.S. diplomat is due to face a London court hearing next month over a fatal car crash in England in a case that led to diplomatic tensions between Britain and the United States.

Harry Dunn, 19, died after his motorcycle was in a collision in August 2019 with a car driven by Anne Sacoolas near RAF Croughton, an air force base in the English county of Northamptonshire that is used by the U.S. military.

Sacoolas left Britain shortly after the accident, claiming diplomatic immunity from criminal prosecution. The United States has refused to extradite her.

“While the challenges and complexity of this case are well known, we remain committed to securing justice in this matter,” a spokesperson for the Crown Prosecution Service said.

The CPS said the case would be heard at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Jan. 18, with British media reporting Sacoolas would appear by video link. The CPS declined to comment on that.

The law firm representing Sacoolas, however, said there was no agreement at this time. “While we have always been willing to discuss a virtual hearing, there is no agreement at this time,” a spokesperson for Arnold & Porter said.

Sacoolas’ lawyer in 2020 said that she would not return voluntarily to potentially face jail for “a terrible but unintentional accident.” The U.S. Embassy in London did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The CPS statement on Monday did not specify the charge she would face but the agency previously said it would charge her with causing death by dangerous driving.

In the years since the crash, Dunn’s parents, with the support of the British government, have campaigned for Sacoolas to be prosecuted in Britain. British Foreign Minister Liz Truss welcomed the development on Monday.

In 2019, Dunn’s parents travelled to the White House for a meeting with then-President Donald Trump, who surprised them by revealing that Sacoolas was in an adjoining room. Dunn’s parents declined to meet her.

Earlier this year the then-British foreign minister Dominic Raab said the path was clear for British authorities to see whether a virtual trial or other process involving Sacoolas could be used to allow “some accountability and some solace and some justice for the Dunn family.”