California Police Say Qatari Sheikh who Claimed Diplomatic Immunity Flees U.S. With Ferrari

September 23, 2015

A Ferrari caught on video zooming through a Beverly Hills neighborhood last weekend is owned by a Middle Eastern sheikh who has since left the country and taken his million-dollar sports car with him, authorities say.

Police held a news conference Thursday to discuss the incident and identified the owner as Khalid bin Hamad Al Thani, of Qatar. He’s a lover of fast cars who owned a champion drag-racing team and is a member of the ruling family of the oil-rich country.

Al Thani’s bright yellow, 12-cylinder LaFerrari, which sells for around $1.4 million new, was recorded along with a white Porsche speeding down narrow streets and racing through stop signs Saturday evening. They eventually pulled into a driveway, the Ferrari’s engine smoking.

Officers answering reports of reckless driving found both cars parked in the driveway. A man believed to be Al Thani told the officers that the cars belonged to him, and he denied speeding or driving recklessly, police said.

The man claimed to have diplomatic immunity, but Beverly Hills Police Chief Dominick Rivetti said authorities determined that was not the case.

“What I do know is you can’t claim diplomatic immunity if you don’t have it, and you can’t use that as an excuse to jeopardize the public or commit crimes,” Rivetti said.

No charges were brought because investigators don’t know who was driving the cars, Lt. Lincoln Hoshino said.

The drivers weren’t visible on the videos or photographs, and investigators were unable to find anyone who was willing to identify them, Hoshino said.

Police will continue investigating, and if the drivers are identified, they could be charged with reckless driving, Rivetti said.

The city has lodged a complaint over the incident to the Qatari consulate via the U.S. State Department, the chief said.

Authorities in Qatar and at the Qatari Embassy in Washington could not be immediately reached for comment. The state-run Qatar News Agency did not report on the incident Friday, the start of the country’s weekend.

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