ISLAMABAD: The family of a motorbike rider, who was killed in a road accident involving a US diplomat in April, was apparently paid Rs5 million in compensation before the diplomat was allowed to leave the country last month, sources have told The Express Tribune.
On April 7, 22-year-old Ateeq Baig and his cousin Raheel were crossing the Daman-e-Koh Intersection on Margalla Road on their right of way when a sports utility vehicle (SUV) driven by driven by US Embassy Defence and Air Attache Colonel Joseph Emanuel Hall rammed them at speed after having jumped the traffic light while travelling towards the Constitution Avenue.
As a result of the collision, Baig and Raheel were sent flying through the air. Baig suffered grievous injuries and died at the spot while Raheel suffered fractures to his foot.
Police initially questioned Col Hall, but after confirming his diplomatic credentials, let him go. He was booked for rash driving and manslaughter. He was subsequently put on the no-fly list by the interior ministry after the victim’s family approached the Islamabad High Court (IHC) seeking justice.
Pakistani authorities had requested the US to revoke Col Hall’s diplomatic immunity so that he could be tried in Pakistan. But Washington turned down Islamabad’s request.
Caught on camera: US defence attaché runs red light, kills motorcyclist
The US defence attaché was then given a special permission by the interior ministry and quietly allowed to leave the country aboard a US military plane on May 14 from the Nur Khan Airbase, after a reported patch-up with the families of both the victims.
While the victim families had confirmed that they were taken into confidence by the authorities before Hall was allowed to leave the country, they would not confirm payment of any compensation.
However, official sources privy to the case have told The Express Tribune that Baig’s family was paid Rs5 million while Raheel’s family received Rs1 million as compensation.
A member of Raheel’s family, while talking to The Express Tribune, confirmed that a settlement was reached and that compensation has been paid.
Whether the compensation was paid by the US Embassy or the Government of Pakistan is still not clear. An official said the government had paid the victim families to compensate them for their losses.
Daman-e-Koh accident: Amid tears, Margalla village buries its promising son
In the last incident involving a US official and locals resulting in the death of latter, the government had forked out a heavy sum to the family of the victims. In January 2011, US defence contractor Raymond Davis allegedly killed two men in Lahore.
He was released two months later in March 2011, after a patch-up which allegedly involved the payment of diyat — blood money — to the families of the victim to the tune of $2.4 million.
Last year, then foreign minister Khawaja Asif told the lower house of Parliament that the Pakistani government had paid the blood money and not the US government as was earlier maintained. But he swiftly added, “God knows who paid this amount. There is a need to conduct an investigation in this regard.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 2nd, 2018.
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