Driver claims diplomatic immunity over crash
Updated: 2012-06-19 08:00
By Cao Yin (China Daily)
A Beijing motorist has been assured she will be compensated for car re-pairs after a crash blamed on a Brazilian driver who claimed diplomatic immunity.
According to an initial incident report, police said the collision occurred at 9:23 am in the capital's Chaoyang district when a gray Great Wall SUV ran a red light and smashed into the side of Meng Xiaojing's red Skoda hatchback.
On Monday a spokesman for Huatai Insurance said the company will cover the cost of the damage to her car and her medical bills.
"The (Brazilian driver) had a contract for full coverage with us and we will pay the compensation," said an employee who only gave his surname Li.
Meng, 29, said she tried to negotiate in English at the scene with the SUV driver, who police described as the 47-year-old wife of an official at the Brazilian embassy in Beijing.
"She did not want to talk with me," Meng said, adding that when traffic police arrived the woman presented a diplomatic document.
"Two of her friends arrived at the same time as the police, including a Chinese man who said he was a doctor. He told me that she is a Brazilian diplomat, while one of the traffic officers told me she might have diplomatic immunity."
A spokesman for Beijing's traffic management bureau declined to comment on Monday.
Meng received slight injuries to her head, chest and neck in the accident, which happened at the intersection of Huajiadi Jie and Futong Xidajie in the Wangjing area on May 23.
Since then, she said, several legal experts, including a judge at Chaoyang District People's Court, have warned her that getting compensation could be a lengthy process, as it involves applying to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
"My car's airbags went off," she said. "My door was bashed out of shape, and it took all my strength to open it and get out."
In frustration at facing a wait for compensation, Meng on Friday posted pictures she took at the scene, generating a lot of attention among Web users.
According to international laws and treaties, diplomats and their family members enjoy civil and criminal immunity when they are appointed to other countries.
An official at the ministry who identified himself only as Fang, said that in such cases authorities will first investigate the foreigner's identity and then negotiate with embassies if necessary.
"Such investigations can last six months," he added.
A female employee with the Brazilian embassy's administrative department declined to comment on Monday, saying only: "I can't disclose information on the Brazilian woman involved in the accident nor her husband, including their names, because it's a matter of privacy."
(China Daily 06/19/2012 page4)