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Last Saturday night, at around 5 AM, a jeep driven by US marine Christopher Robert Van Goether smashed into a taxi that had the insolence to not get out of his way while he was leisurely cruising through downtown Bucharest at 100 km/h.

The jeep belonged to the US Embassy, and the marine himself was part of the personal escort of the American Ambassador to Romania. The taxi contained Romanian rock star Teo Peter, who was just going home after a concert. He was killed instantly.

When the police arrived on the scene, they did some quick tests, and it turned out the marine was very much drunk. They didn't get around to doing anything else, though, because he was flown to Washington within 24 hours of committing the crime, and nothing has been heard of him since. Under a document signed by Romania 2 years ago, if an American soldier commits a crime on our territory, our government is required to bend over and STFU - in official terms, we have no jurisdiction over US military personnel, and neither does the International Court of Justice. To put it another way, if a US marine decides to get in a tank and have some fun blowing up a city, our government is powerless to do anything about it. The only ones who can stop him are his own superiors. And if they don't feel like doing anything - too bad! This is called our "alliance" with the USA, as a NATO member country.

The American Embassy has publicly stated that a military court is investigating Christopher Van Goether in the USA, and that "the investigation is going well". They probably proceeded to laugh their asses off as soon as they got back into the Embassy building.

Meanwhile, the Romanian media is rightfully outraged - and I mean outraged. The highly respected broadsheet "Adevarul" was furious this Monday. I quote from the front page column:

"[...] On television we are greeted by His Excellency Jack Dyer Crouch, with a face like a plastic mask: after expressing his regrets, he says the murderer was taken out of the country 'for the benefit and protection of all those involved in this unfortunate event'. Mr. Ambassador, who exactly is supposed to be 'protected'? [...] Perhaps your handyman was set on doing a few more roadkills, but you thought he had enough fun for the evening?

Just as I now wish to see Romania in the EU, for many years I've looked forward to our entry in NATO. And since we've been in NATO, what wonderful benefits have we received? [...] An American soldier kills a man in the middle of Bucharest, then flies to Washington with impunity while the US Ambassador makes a mockery of justice. For years we have seen NATO as our protector, and now America tramples Romania underfoot. If this is what happens in peacetime, what can we expect from our 'allies' if we ever need their help in a war?

For all our grief, however, we must bear in mind that we are not the only ones receiving this treatment. Another American marine, cpt. Richard Ashby, killed 20 Italians in the town of Cavalese in February 1998, by cutting a support cable while he was playing around with his jet fighter. For his crime, Ashby was tried by an American Court Martial, not by the Italian justice system, and found not guilty. The US Congress refused to give any compensation to the families of the victims. So can we seriously expect that they will now send Ashby's comrade-in-arms back to Romania to stand trial? I can only re-iterate what I wrote in 2002: the American soldier is above all other beings on the European continent. The USA shows the mentality of an imperial occupier - a mentality known for many centuries, starting with the Roman legions: a soldier of the superior race can kill as many 'barbarians' as he likes with impunity."

Those words are stronger than anything I would use (and some of their original edge was lost in the translation, too), and keep in mind that they come from Cristian Tudor Popescu, one of Romania's most highly regarded journalists. He is not the kind of man who writes something like this every day.

This matter would be a major diplomatic incident if our government weren't a political prostitute, of course.

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I'd be furious too. Signs of the times, unfortunately. So, I hope that this marine will be tries and convicted, hopefully sentanced harshly. I expect that he will either be aquitted or forgotten. How depressing.

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It's called diplomatic immunity and it sucks.  It exists to protect a nation's representatives from unreasonable foreign laws when they are compelled, by order, to work away from home.  In some situations it's necessary to protect soldiers (eg if western soldiers were sent to Darfur as peacekeepers it would be outrageous to imprison female soldiers under Sharia law for showing face/ankle/whatever) however this situation is clearly not related to the marine's job so that immunity should not apply.  But really the worst part of it all isn't the fact that immunity does apply but how much of a joke US court martials are.

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It's not just "diplomatic immunity". Aside even from the fact that drunk soldiers are the least diplomatic people on earth.

The US has a habit of making 'bilateral' extradition treaties with other countries. And 'bilateral', I mean one-way. I think Blair has signed up to one recently.

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I see that this man is called a "murderer" up above. Did he intentionally kill the man in the car that he hit? Being drunk, I can easily see how this could have been an accident. Edric, when you phrase your version of events, you phrase it in a way that implies that the Marine did what he did on purpose "the insolence to not get out of his way." I think that you color the man's actions a bit too much. The marine should be tried and punished for what he has done; involuntary manslaughter while DUI.

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a soldier of the superior race can kill as many 'barbarians' as he likes with impunity.

This was an accedent- albet a tragic one, but there is no reason to start comparing the americans to the romans, who were ordered to kill. I highly disagree with the lack of justace but this newspaper and your entire post, Edric. are nothing but attacks on the U.S.

And Edric, if you are outraged at this, look at the reports of crimes commited my U.S personell in Japan.

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Wow, Romania is going to allow a new US base in their country so USA can attack middle east.

I say withdraw and join up in the European union (if not already) and get ties with Europe and Canada.

Americans are allowed to bomb Canadian soldiers and only get discharged from the military. And I'm pretty sure it took Bush a while to apologize for the incident.

http://www.cbc.ca/stories/2002/04/18/friendfire020418

He forgot to mention it when talking to the press. ::)

Although America leaving a wasteland in Canada is not fun either. But I think Canada made a bad decision when accepting money or something for it. Now Canada has to pay to clean it up.

http://www.cpeo.org/lists/military/1997/msg00090.html

Don't let America into your country!

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Sadly, I have to agree with Barbarossa and Wolfwiz. It really depends on how the actual accident happened. Was the taxi driver around (obviously)? Are there any other witnesses? It may be an accident, but an innocent death has occured, so the man should be sentenced, and very severely. But it should NOT, I repeat, should NOT warrant a death sentence. Why is the man drunk and on the road in the first place? That is the basis of this whole issue. Even if you don't commit an obvious crime, drunk-driving is wrong already and the person can be charged. Now he's killed someone. Why not guilty?

Apparently, America is worse than we have all thought it to be. Long live the fighters!!

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This matter would be a major diplomatic incident if our government weren't a political prostitute, of course.

It is a sad accident that happened I agree, but as this thread grows, the more I see nothing more than another reason to blame the U.S for something. Was it wrong? yes and should be handled within the guidlines and law. Everything I've read on this so far is all within the guidelines and  protocol of International Law, and not just for the U.S. This isn't  genocide, terrorism, or even a murder.  I don't think the soldier sought out this person with an intent to kill him with a vehicle.  Lets not try to justify nuking the U.S. or claiming an international crisis for a D.U.I. still under investigation. 

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Cool, another American Trashing Thread  ;D

It happends so often, not just with americans. Also Dutch soldiers were/are misbehaving in Iraq, Yugoslavia, some African country i can't remember the name...

The army mentallity just sucks with every country. Everywhere where there are armies, you have men behaving bad...

Unfortunattely for America  ::) they have the biggest army abroad, so it is only natural that they make most 'mistakes'.

How many Romanians do something bad in US?

I bet there are quite a lot fucking up things there too.

But now one of your 'top' singers was killed, it will be another reason to trash on america in your country...

(hmm, it sounds like i am defending America, while i am also actually an anti-america, anti-globalist)

But i just want to see it all in perspective...

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I see that this man is called a "murderer" up above. Did he intentionally kill the man in the car that he hit? Being drunk, I can easily see how this could have been an accident. Edric, when you phrase your version of events, you phrase it in a way that implies that the Marine did what he did on purpose "the insolence to not get out of his way." I think that you color the man's actions a bit too much.

That was not my intention. Of course he didn't do it on purpose - he did it because he was drunk. On the other hand, getting drunk and racing at 100 km/h through the downtown area of a capital city is a pretty sure way to get someone killed (possibly yourself).

You will notice that I posted this topic several days after the event. That's because the real outrage was caused by the American Embassy's decisions, not by the marine's actions. The fact that he was flown out of the country in such a hurry and that we are given no information about him leaves a strong impression that the American government has utter contempt for Romania.

The marine should be tried and punished for what he has done; involuntary manslaughter while DUI.

Yes, and those are precisely the charges brought against him by the Romanian courts (well, he is also charged with causing serious bodily harm while DUI, because, in addition to the death of Teo Peter, the taxi driver was badly wounded).

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But it should NOT, I repeat, should NOT warrant a death sentence.

First of all, there is no death penalty in Romania (or any other European country, for that matter). Second of all, of course the marine doesn't qualify for anything that harsh. But he does qualify for a lengthy jail term.

But now one of your 'top' singers was killed, it will be another reason to trash on america in your country...

Actually, most Romanians are (or used to be) very pro-American.

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Edric O, are you a Romanian? (just a personal question. you may choose not to answer)

Well, I have been quite persuaded to 'hurt' America more... but to the Uncle Sam, these are but a 'few' minority incidents. Abu Ghraib just one of them. It is not enough to put an end to American occupation or whatsoever, whatever America wishes to do with our country(ies).

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If such an incident would happen in Sweden, it wouldn't be long before the American Embassy would lie in ruins.

Woohoo, advocating terrorist action against an elected government...and I realize you aren't doing that, but someone is bound to make the accusation.

As for the incident...Bush once threatened to invade any nation that dared put one of our soldiers on trial if I remember right.  "Gunboat Diplomacy" has never been more like "Carpet Bomb Diplomacy".

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