The 20-year-old son of the Senegalese ambassador to the United States was given $600 in traffic citations but not arrested after he allegedly fled the scene of a collision that injured two persons yesterday on the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge, according to D.C. police.
Sidy L. Kane of 4500 Linnean Ave. NW was cited for reckless driving and leaving after colliding. A D.C. police statement said, "Mr. Kane was not arrested because . . . he's protected by diplomatic immunity. The circumstances of this incident have been forwarded to the U.S. State Department."
The accident, which was witnessed by a police officer who then apprehended Kane, came at a time of renewed controversy over diplomatic immunity, which was sparked last week by hearings on a bill introduced by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) to limit immunity in criminal matters to diplomats and consular officers, while excluding their relatives, dependents and staff.
The other driver, Lillian Baker, 32, of Southeast Washington, and passenger Canella Jenkins, 23, of Oxon Hill, were treated at D.C. General Hospital and released. Two other passengers were uninjured in the 3:30 a.m. accident.
Ambassador Falilou Kane was in Senegal yesterday and could not be reached for comment.
Richard Gookin, associate chief of protocol at the State Department, said, "The Department of State expects that all traffic violations will be paid. However, because of diplomatic immunity, they cannot be forced to pay them."
Gookin said that the agency was taking immediate steps to withdraw Sidy Kane's driver's license and was exploring other measures, including requesting a waiver of diplomatic immunity so that Kane could be subject to prosecution.
The department strongly opposes any weakening of diplomatic immunity here because of concerns over retaliation by foreign countries "where there is not due process . . . and our people could be subject to the capricious will of persons in authority," Gookin said.
Under the Vienna Convention, an estimated 37,000 foreign diplomats and their families in the United States -- and all senior U.S. officials and their families overseas -- cannot be prosecuted or held civilly liable for alleged illegal acts.