Anne Sacoolas, the wife of a U.S. diplomat who allegedly killed a British motorcyclist then fled to the U.S. and claimed diplomatic immunity, will be formally charged with a crime in relation to the incident, BBC News reported. Authorities have already begun the extradition process to bring her from the U.S. to the U.K.
The saga of Sacoolas and her role in the death of Harry Dunn has put a strain on the relationship between the U.K., two nations that have been steadfast allies.
Harry Dunn, 19, was driving his motorcycle near a British Air Force base on August 27 when he was struck and killed by a car, which was allegedly driven by Sacoolas on the wrong side of the road.
Sacoolas, the wife of U.S. diplomat Jonathan Sacoolas, passed a sobriety test and was otherwise cooperative with authorities investigating the crash. However, during the investigation, Sacoolas, purportedly with the help of the U.S., claimed diplomatic immunity and returned to the U.S.
The question of whether or not Sacoolas can indeed claim diplomatic immunity — an international legal doctrine intended to protect diplomats from malicious prosecution during the course of their duties — remains a matter of dispute between the U.K. and the U.S.
#Breaking: Anne Sacoolas, the wife of an American diplomat, has been formally charged with causing the death of British teenager Harry Dunn by dangerous driving, British media report. pic.twitter.com/Ljr7T8Bifx
— China Daily (@ChinaDaily) December 20, 2019
The Crown Prosecution Service announced today that it has begun extradition proceedings against Sacoolas to bring her back to the U.K. and charge her with dangerous driving resulting in the death of Dunn.
Dunn’s mother, Charlotte Charles, said she’s relieved that Sacoolas has been charged.
“We feel that we have made a huge step in the start of achieving the promise to Harry that we made. We made that promise to him the night we lost him to seek justice thinking it was going to be really easy,” she said.
The case is far from over, however. Sacoolas’ lawyer has made it clear that she “will not return voluntarily to the United Kingdom to face a potential jail sentence,” Sky News reported.
Extradition efforts, however, may be stalled before they began. According to a statement from the United States Department of State, the agency still considers Sacoolas as protected by diplomatic immunity.
“The United States has been clear that, at the time the accident occurred, and for the duration of her stay in the UK, the driver in this case had status that conferred diplomatic immunities… We do not believe that the UK’s charging decision is a helpful development,” the statement said.
Whether or not that means that the State Department will officially try to block Sacoolas’ extradition remains unclear.