A Qatari Sheikh linked to a drag-racing incident which took place on the streets of Los Angeles has allegedly fled the country.
On Septembr 12, Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al-Thani was purportedly filmed speeding on public roads, but when confronted by policemen he claimed he had diplomatic immunity.
This has stirred public opinion ever since, especially since falsely claiming to have such status is punishable under federal law. Even if a person benefits from diplomatic immunity, this “does not trump public safety”, as Seargent Max Subin has noted.
However, no arrest could be made yet, and no citation was issued, since the officers hadn’t witnessed the incident. Moreover, the images filmed at the scene aren’t conclusive enough as to the identity of the drivers.
Although law enforcement officers had considered pressing charges against the Sheikh for reckless driving, the suspect has left the U.S. abruptly, once the video showing his yellow Ferrari speeding through Beverly Hills became viral.
The images, filmed by Adam Bornstein, captured the Sheikh’s $1.5 million car racing a white Porsche 911 GT3 down residential roads, putting pedestrians at risk. According to the onlooker, Al-Thani had spent his summers in L.A. before, but had kept a low profile.
Although locals called the police upon witnessing the infraction, it couldn’t be established beyond the shadow of a doubt if Al-Thani was indeed behind the steering wheel. At the time of the incident, the sheikh admitted the cars belonged to him, but denied indulging in any dangerous driving.
So far, there isn’t enough evidence to advance the case. As a result, law enforcement officials are asking the residents to assist them in identifying the culprits and to provide them with any additional footage which might shed light on the drag racing incident.
Al-Thani is a member of Qatar’s ruling family, and well-known as a race car aficionado. In recent years, he spent round $10 million per year sponsoring the Al-Anabi drag racing team which won several competitions in 2010, 2011 and 2013.
Although the sheikh had agreed to extend the sponsorship contract with crew chief Alan Johnson for 5 more years, he discontinued the funding abruptly in January 2015, without providing an explanation.
According to L.A. authorities, the Qatari consulate has been informed of the drag-racing misdemeanor, and an investigation is under way, in order to persecute the involved parties.
Beverly Hills Police Chief Dominick Rivetti insists that justice will be served, and officers will adopt a “zero tolerance” policy no matter how well-connected the culprits may be.
Image Source: BBC