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Defiance - Diplomatic Immunity Strikes Again

08 Dec 2004 - 00:00

OBSERVER - December 8th 2004
The wife of an American Embassy Secretary has been involved in another accident two months ago. She seriously injured a 19 year old girl and uses her diplomatic immunity to defend in front of the investigators.

By Andreea Tudorica and Daniela Dumitrescu

Click to enlarge
THE VICTIM. Madalina Hanc, injured in a car accident by a car with diplomatic driving plates
The victim, Madalina Luiza Hanc, got in a coma for 72 hours, followed by a complicated surgery. The young girl’s mother, Iulia Hanc, told the Jurnalul National journalists about the accident on the 15th of October this year. At around 4:30 p.m. Madalina was coming back from courses. She was a first year student at the "Ion Mincu" Architecture Institute in Bucharest.

THE ACCIDENT. During her walk back home she entered a metallic pedestrian passage around the crossroad of "Al. Ioan Cuza" with "Buzesti". She wanted to cross the street and head over the Victoria Plaza. Madalina says in her penal complaint that while she was trying to cross the street she saw a dark coloured car trying to get in front of all the other cars that already had started to move. "I observed with terror another vehicle (a van or a minivan) trying to avoid the impact with the car involved in the forcing of the crossroad. It took a great sudden turn towards its right and going straight to the passage I was crossing. I got seriously injured, became unconscious and got into a coma. Later I understood from the people who talked to me that the car which imprudently entered that crossroad was driven by an American citizen, Wenda Schmelebeck, possible member of the US Embassy in Romania", says Madalina. She also stated that the respective car had a diplomatic license number (CD - 157 194) and it was a dark blue or light green Ford, Mondeo or Saturn.

Click to enlarge
INDIGNANT. Iulia Hanc, the victim’s mother

MOCKING. Madalina also says that, immediately after the accident, Wenda Schmelebeck blocked herself inside her car and phoned her lawyers. "She refused stepping down the car, didn’t care about the accident and its consequences. Even though I was no more than 10 meters away from her car she didn’t even get out of the car to see whether I was in need of any help or whether I was still alive. During her hearing at the police, stated that not stepping down of the car, even though she had been involved in an accident, is the statndard procedure for the US Embassy personnel in any foreign country. She didn’t even realise she committed an accident and she hoped that nothing serious had happened and that "the girl was fine". She was really concerned about the fact that we might have asked for too much (compensations) and asked whether I would remain paralysed, in which case she admitted it would have "a great deal of payments to make"", added Madalina Hanc in her penal complaint.


The US Embassy didn’t provide any information yesterday, not even whether Schmelebeck was part of the US diplomacy personnel. The Embassy’s press service explained it cannot provide any details about the employees whose names are not made public on the diplomatic mission’s website.

The Ministry of External Affairs didn’t provide information about this case either. According to the spokesperson’s office, the MEA doesn’t know about this accident. (By Irina Cristea)


Translation: SORIN BALAN
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