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  #1  
Old 04-26-2012, 04:02 PM
Donnerwetter Donnerwetter is offline
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Foreign ambassador assassinates US President - Diplomatic immunity?

Diplomats, diplomatic staff and their families enjoy immunity from prosecution for crimes they commit in their host nation. This is a well established principle of international law (Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations).

Let's assume A. is the ambassador from the fictitious nation of Absurdistan to the United States. A. holds a grudge against the American President. One day on the occasion of a reception at the White House, he pulls a gun and kills the President.

The government of Absurdistan insists on A.'s diplomatic immunity and demands that he be allowed to leave the United States freely.

The United States most likely would break off diplomatic relations to Absurdistan and would also consider going to war.

But would the US government permit A. to leave the United States - allowing such a heinous act to remain unpunished?

Is this at all a case where diplomatic immunity would apply?
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  #2  
Old 04-26-2012, 04:11 PM
Doctor Who Doctor Who is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Donnerwetter View Post
Diplomats, diplomatic staff and their families enjoy immunity from prosecution for crimes they commit in their host nation. This is a well established principle of international law (Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations).

Let's assume A. is the ambassador from the fictitious nation of Absurdistan to the United States. A. holds a grudge against the American President. One day on the occasion of a reception at the White House, he pulls a gun and kills the President.

The government of Absurdistan insists on A.'s diplomatic immunity and demands that he be allowed to leave the United States freely.

The United States most likely would break off diplomatic relations to Absurdistan and would also consider going to war.

But would the US government permit A. to leave the United States - allowing such a heinous act to remain unpunished?

Is this at all a case where diplomatic immunity would apply?
My two cents: yes, this is case where diplomatic immunity applies. But... practically speaking if Absurdistan would not yield to world political and military threats and waive the ambassador's diplomatic immunity? I think you'd see a noisy U.S. withdrawal from the Vienna Convention before we'd let the guy leave the U.S.

Absurdistan would probably end up a smoking radioactive crater.
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Old 04-26-2012, 04:29 PM
Capt Kirk Capt Kirk is offline
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I do believe that would be considered an Act of War, Absurdistan would have to waive immunity or face the Marines and Co.
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Old 04-26-2012, 04:50 PM
kunilou kunilou is offline
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Given the scenario, it seems Absurdistan has two possible courses of action.

1) Apologize and point out that assasination of the U.S. President is not their official policy. They either release the ambassador to the U.S. legal system, or bring him home and very publicly convict him of murder.

2) Refuse to say anything, which, as the others say, is pretty much tantamount to an act of war. In that case, the new President and Congress would be happy to oblige.
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Old 04-26-2012, 05:08 PM
mcgato mcgato is offline
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Wouldn't the US just claim that the "ambassador" was just an undercover agent of Absurdistan, thus not able to claim diplomatic immunity? That would be my take. He is not an ambassador, but an assassin from Absurdistan.
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Old 04-26-2012, 05:25 PM
Craz3d117 Craz3d117 is offline
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Well isn't the whole point of diplomatic immunity just a sign of good faith towards other countries? In this case that good faith between Absurdistan an the U.S has clearly been broken, thus there'd really be no point in granting diplomatic immunity, at least in the short term. The only way I see peace with Absurdistan is if they either agree to have him sentenced to life in prison or executed in their own country, that or let the U.S keep him. Either way the U.S is going to get what they want.
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Old 04-26-2012, 05:42 PM
Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor is offline
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Does Absurdistan have...oil?

If so, moot point.
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Old 04-26-2012, 06:12 PM
silenus silenus is online now
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No amount of immunity would save the assassin. Absurdistan could protest in the General Assembly, for all the good it would do them. Every country on the planet would align behind the US.
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Old 04-26-2012, 06:20 PM
Jman Jman is online now
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I think the real answer is that the guy wouldn't live to find out of his immunity would last. Frankly, if guy pulls gun on President, the secret service is more than likely going to put a cap in him pretty quickly.

BUT, saying they don't, I agree with the rest, he'd be held immediately as a prisoner of war and if Absurdistan wanted to make a big deal out of it, they'd find a whole bunch of our finest knocking on the door. Frankly, even if they let him be tried in the US and allowed the US to prosecute, I think you'd have some military action.

Last edited by Jman; 04-26-2012 at 06:21 PM..
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  #10  
Old 04-26-2012, 06:24 PM
pseudotriton ruber ruber pseudotriton ruber ruber is offline
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This president of the US--is he by any chance BLACK?
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Old 04-26-2012, 06:48 PM
Ravenman Ravenman is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Craz3d117 View Post
Well isn't the whole point of diplomatic immunity just a sign of good faith towards other countries? In this case that good faith between Absurdistan an the U.S has clearly been broken, thus there'd really be no point in granting diplomatic immunity, at least in the short term. The only way I see peace with Absurdistan is if they either agree to have him sentenced to life in prison or executed in their own country, that or let the U.S keep him. Either way the U.S is going to get what they want.
In a purely legal sense, if the US accepts the diplomatic credentials of someone, the fact that person may be a covert operative has no relevance. A diplomat cannot be detained for criminal matters.

Now, it is my opinion that the US would find some argument to hold the guy, but I can't think of a strong legal basis to do so. I believe in was in the early 1980s, a Libyan diplomat shot and killed a British policewoman, totally in cold blood, and the diplomat was repatriated. But I would think that killing a head of state may set a new precident.
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Old 04-26-2012, 09:25 PM
chorpler chorpler is online now
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Originally Posted by silenus View Post
No amount of immunity would save the assassin.
Well, you know, unless he had a letter of transit.
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Old 04-26-2012, 09:42 PM
silenus silenus is online now
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That only works if you can convince Ingrid Bergman to go with you.
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Old 04-26-2012, 09:49 PM
Gary "Wombat" Robson Gary "Wombat" Robson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor View Post
Does Absurdistan have...oil?
Quote:
Originally Posted by pseudotriton ruber ruber View Post
This president of the US--is he by any chance BLACK?
[moderating]
Come on, you two. You have both been here long enough to know those comments aren't appropriate for GQ.
No warnings issued.
[/moderating]
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Old 04-26-2012, 10:40 PM
Keeve Keeve is offline
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As far as I am aware, no foreign ambassador has yet assassinated a US president. However, relevant incident and stories DO exist, for crimes including manslaughter and murder. Those who are interested can read snippets in the Wikipedia article here.
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Old 04-26-2012, 11:16 PM
alphaboi867 alphaboi867 is offline
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We'd go to war with Absurdistan in short order and all Absurdistani diplomats in the US (not just the ambassador) would quickly be placed under house arrest under high security under some hotel the federal government requisitioned. They'd stay there until some kind of swap could be arranged with the Absurdistani goverment for our diplomats via a neutral 3rd party like Switzerland.

Assuming the ambassador survived the initial assasination (the Secret Service won't hesitate to return fire) my WAG is that he'd be held in very comfortable condition under strict security while someone tries to figure out a way to kill him while making it look so much like natural cause as to fool the finest forensic pathologist the Swiss have to offer.
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  #17  
Old 04-26-2012, 11:23 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is online now
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Since there's no way in hell we are letting this guy go, we'd have to hang a legal hat on some hook. The Act of War sounds most likely. If necessary we could fail to recognize the government of Absurdistan and deny the diplomatic immunity applied in the first place. In the most extreme case we install a new government in Absurdistan to waive the privilege.
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Old 04-27-2012, 12:29 AM
Sunspace Sunspace is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keeve View Post
As far as I am aware, no foreign ambassador has yet assassinated a US president. However, relevant incident and stories DO exist, for crimes including manslaughter and murder. Those who are interested can read snippets in the Wikipedia article here.
Going through that list, there seem to be an awful lot of drunk-driving incidents...

I remember when the Russian diplomat killed a pedestrian in Ottawa.
Quote:
In January 2001, in Canada, Andrei Knyazev, a Russian diplomat drove his car into two pedestrians on a quiet residential street, killing one and seriously injuring the other. Knyazev had previously been stopped by Ottawa police on two separate occasions on suspicion of impaired driving. Russia refused the Canadian government's request to waive his immunity. Knyazev was subsequently prosecuted in Russia for involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to four years in prison. His appeal of the sentence was denied, and he served time in a penal colony.
Prople were pissed, and we were really hoping the Russians would release Knyazev to Canadian courts.

But Russia is more powerful than Canada, and they didn't, and realistically we couldn't do much more than kick Knyazev out of Canada, and send strongly-worded diplomatic notes, and try to influence and/or embarass Russia into doing the right thing afterwards in terms of prosecution. If the offending diplomat had been from, say, Iceland or Trinidad, things might have been different.

What would happen in the OP's scenario would really depend on the comparative strengths of the US and Absurdistan.
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Old 04-27-2012, 10:26 AM
Saint Cad Saint Cad is offline
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Plus every other country would declare all Absuudistan staff persona non grata and ship them back.
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  #20  
Old 04-28-2012, 09:08 AM
AWB AWB is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunspace View Post
Going through that list, there seem to be an awful lot of drunk-driving incidents...

I remember when the Russian diplomat killed a pedestrian in Ottawa. Prople were pissed, and we were really hoping the Russians would release Knyazev to Canadian courts.

But Russia is more powerful than Canada, and they didn't, and realistically we couldn't do much more than kick Knyazev out of Canada, and send strongly-worded diplomatic notes, and try to influence and/or embarass Russia into doing the right thing afterwards in terms of prosecution. If the offending diplomat had been from, say, Iceland or Trinidad, things might have been different.

What would happen in the OP's scenario would really depend on the comparative strengths of the US and Absurdistan.
There was a similar incident in Washington, DC, when a Georgian diplomat, Gueorgui Makharadze, sped into Dupont Circle, rear ended a car so hard that it launched, landed on another car, then went on to hit two more. A girl in the second "victim" car was killed. Georgia waived his immunity upon request of the State Department, and he was tried and sentenced to 7-21 years in prison. He served 3, then was sent back to Georgia, where he spent 2 more years, and then was released.

(My amazement of the incident was how anyone could get up to enough speed in downtown DC to cause that much destruction in an automobile wreck. Estimates were that he was going 90 mph [145 kph].)
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