U.S. Wants Envoy To Stand Trial

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: The Republic of Georgia is likely to deny a waiver of diplomatic immunity requested by a U.S. attorney in a case involving an intoxicated Georgian envoy blamed for helping cause a five-car crash that killed a 16-year-old girl in Washington. "The U.S. attorney views this as prosecutable" on charges ranging from negligent homicide to second-degree murder, said his spokesman, Kevin Ohlson. "We believe there is ample evidence to believe criminal conduct occurred in this case." Gueorgui Makharadze will probably go home to Georgia instead, though the girl's family may sue for damages from a drivers' liability insurance policy that diplomats are required to carry. Even given the extreme conditions of this case, diplomatic immunity is considered too important by most countries to allow much flexibility. By protecting diplomats from prosecution by local police authorities abroad, the practice prevents hostile governments from improperly harrassing or imprisoning diplomats under the cover of local statutes. Although State Department spokesman Glyn Davies maintained that "it's a virtual certainty we will try to get his diplomatic immunity lifted," the U.S. is not expected to exert much pressure, mindful of potential threats to its own people abroad. The State Department surely remembers a 1993 incident in which a U.S. diplomat driving in Moscow struck and killed a Russian woman. The diplomat was expelled, but not prosecuted.