Fiji accident involving diplomat now in South Africa's hands
A fatal road incident in Fiji involving a South African diplomat is now out of police hands and is a matter between the foreign ministries of both countries.
Fiji's police commissioner says the recent incident involving a South African diplomat is now out of police hands and is a matter between the foreign ministries of both countries.
Major General Ben Groenewald has cited the Vienna Convention for his actions in releasing a South African national who was involved in a fatal car accident on Saturday night.
Under the convention, diplomats have complete immunity from arrest, detention and police questioning.
He spoke with Alex Perrottet.
BEN GROENEWALD: The problem is that he cannot be questioned because article 29 of the Vienna gives privileges and immunity to any agent of a diplomatic office. He is in fact inviolable and he cannot be arrested or interviewed or detained.
ALEX PERROTTET: Was there a request from the police to the department of immigration for South Africa to waive that immunity which they can do under the same convention?
BG: Yes the whole administrative process is a diplomatic process between our department of foreign affairs and the South African department of foreign affairs through the office of the high commissioner of South Africa in Fiji. The government cannot make a decision on that, the sole responsibility lies with the South African government, it can waive the immunity. That means he loses his immunity and he can be charged. The second option that the South African government can take is that they can call him back and then he will stand trial in South Africa, those are the two options. But as I indicated the police or the director of public prosecutions has no say on that. That is a diplomatic bilateral agreement between the sending state and the receiving state.
AP: Okay did the police have a chance after the incident to test the diplomat for drink driving?
BG: Yes he was immediately taken from the scene of the crime for an alcohol test, now that is also a debatable issue because in terms of the Vienna convention they were not supposed to do it. So that might be contested in court because that was already an infringement in his immunity.
AP: Are the police investigating the nature of the incident any further?
BG: The investigation has been fully investigated and I received the news from my chief investigating officer that a docket will be finalised by the end of this week. So nothing was hidden away the investigation has been done just as in any other case. Except that for the immunity of this person we cannot approach him for an interview.
AP: Okay and there has been an official complaint against yourself. Do you know who in the police filed that complaint? Was it the person who you instructed to release the diplomat?
BG: The complaint against me was one of obstructing the ends of justice. Now no one is above the law. So he complained that I obstructed the ends of Law. This specific case is also investigated by my chief investigative office commissioner Brown and once it was finished it was submitted to the DPP.
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