I know an Ambassador who committed a crime and fled abroad on diplomatic immunity. Will he be able to return to his native country in the future under statute barred or statute of limitations rules? He would have been jailed for five years if he wasn't a Diplomat.

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    Was the crime committed in the diplomat's home country, the country where the diplomat was working, or a third country? Did the diplomat flee to the home country, a country where the diplomat was officially accredited, ora third country? – phoog Jun 23 '15 at 15:10
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    What countries were involved? – cpast Jun 23 '15 at 16:29
  • The Diplomat was working in Saudi Arabia at the time. I'm not sure if he had returned to his home country and committed the crime while there. He fled to Dubai and now resides in Abu-Dhabi. His home country is France. – KazzieP Jun 23 '15 at 17:06
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    So to be clear, the situation is: A French diplomat in Saudi Arabia committed a crime in the kingdom, and claimed diplomatic immunity from the Saudi police. Then, he fled to the UAE instead of returning to France; presumably they allowed him to stay there (instead of extraditing to Saudi). You're asking if he could return to France, either now or at some point in the future. The crime he was suspected of is a serious crime in both Saudi Arabia and France. Is that all correct? – cpast Jun 23 '15 at 17:37
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    @KazzieP diplomatic immunity does not apply to a diplomat in his own country. If a French diplomat committed a crime in France and then left the country to avoid prosecution, the term "fugitive" would be more appropriate. It's really impossible to answer your question as you are uncertain about where the crime was committed. – phoog Jun 23 '15 at 20:56

There are several options that the Home country has.

  1. It can choose to waive diplomatic immunity and allow the Host nation (Saudi Arabia in this case) to pursue legal charges in their own system.

  2. The Home nation can choose to pursue charges as though the crime were committed on national soil. Typically once charges are brought the statute of limitations is suspended but this may vary by nation.

  3. The Home nation can choose not to pursue charges. In this case once the statute of limitations expires then the former diplomat would be free at home. And would enjoy the immunity from prosecution for the incident in the Host country as well.

However since the diplomat appears to have fled before charges could be brought, if Saudi Arabia were to gain possession of the former diplomat it could pursue legal action against the diplomat as an international fugitive. The former diplomat could attempt to invoke diplomatic immunity and it would be up to the Home country to either back their former diplomat, or they could choose to deny the claim since the former diplomat fled and they could interpret that as surrendering his diplomatic post and in effect renouncing his diplomatic status.

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  • Thanks Chad, I think he may have committed the crime in France, as a Barrister was involved and he escaped justice via his diplomatic status. Unless he was hurried out of Saudi Arabia by the French Government as he left all his belongings with a friend out there and I'm sure he wouldn't have chosen to stay under their regime. – KazzieP Jun 23 '15 at 19:21

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