SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – South Korean police said on Thursday they were pressing to investigate a US diplomat to determine whether he had voluntarily fled following a traffic accident in Seoul.
The diplomat’s car overturned a taxi in Seoul on Wednesday but kept moving forward without stopping, Seoul Yongsan Police Station said, citing an analysis of images recorded by the taxi’s camera.
The taxi chased the diplomat’s car until it stopped near the door of a nearby US military base in Seoul. Police dispatched to the scene attempted to identify the diplomat, but he refused to comply with any investigation, officers said, requesting anonymity due to department rules.
His car then drove to the US base, where the residences of US diplomats based in Seoul are located, police said.
Police said the taxi driver and a passenger did not immediately report the injuries. Police said they did not know if anyone in the US diplomat’s car was injured.
Police on Thursday sent official letters to the U.S. Embassy in Seoul and the South Korean Foreign Ministry requesting their cooperation in their investigation and verifying whether the diplomat would exercise his immunity. The Foreign Office later told police that there were four US diplomats in the car, including the driver, and that they all belonged to the embassy, ââpolice said.
If the driver was aware of the collision and deliberately ran away, his behavior is a criminal offense. Even though he didn’t recognize the accident and intentionally didn’t run away, he still has to pay the cost of repairing the taxi’s damaged bumper, police say.
The U.S. Embassy, ââin a statement, disputed the report of the crash reported in the press, without specifying which parts of the media it is referring to.
“We hope that the relevant (South Korean) law enforcement authorities will conduct a thorough and fair investigation into the matter, and we will refrain from providing any further comments until this investigation is completed.” , did he declare.
South Korea’s foreign ministry said Thursday it was consulting with authorities. Spokesman Choi Young-sam said South Korea is dealing severely with crimes committed by foreign diplomats in Seoul.
South Korea is a signatory to the Vienna Convention, which grants diplomats and their families protection from criminal prosecution, although immunity can be voluntarily waived. Earlier this year, the Foreign Office said there had been no cases in the past five years of foreign diplomats being prosecuted after lifting immunity.
The United States is South Korea’s main security ally. About 28,500 US troops are deployed in South Korea to deter possible North Korean aggression.