- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 4, 2004

From staff reports and combined wire services

The 18-year-old son of the head of the Liberian Embassy, arrested Friday on charges including carjacking and robbery in Montgomery County, was released Saturday under diplomatic immunity. But police said they had not dropped the charges.

“Right now, the ball is in the prosecutor’s court,” said Brenda Greenberg, a State Department spokeswoman. She said the State Department was waiting for a recommendation from prosecutors on whether the U.S. government should request Liberia to waive immunity.

“That is not something most governments like to do,” Miss Greenberg said.

Montgomery County police arrested Thomas K. Kollie and two others in connection with a carjacking in Silver Spring. Police said about 13 men attacked three men in a car Friday night, took the vehicle and drove it into two parked cars in a parking lot. Police thinks the three men in the car and three of the suspects were involved in a fight earlier in the evening.

Mr. Kollie and David Alvarado, 19, both from Silver Spring, and a teenager from Takoma Park were arrested by police near the site of the attack.

Police learned from the State Department that Mr. Kollie had diplomatic immunity because his father, Aaron B. Kollie, is charge d’affaires of the Liberian Embassy in Washington. The young man was released into his father’s custody Saturday. A police spokeswoman said the charges against him were not dropped.

A State Department spokeswoman said in similar cases the department asks local authorities whether they want to prosecute.

If they do, the foreign government is requested to waive immunity.

Otherwise, the suspect normally would be deported in serious cases. U.S. officials also would help the victims try to win compensation in cases of personal injury or property damage, the spokeswoman said.

According to a Montgomery County Police report, at about 11 p.m. on Friday a male driver was parking a Honda Accord in a lot near Domer Avenue and Glenview Avenue in Silver Spring.

A gang of about 13 men, which included Mr. Kollie, according to police, began to throw bottles at the car. The bottles shattered all of the car windows.

The driver and two male passengers got out of the car, and one of the gang approached with a knife.

The victims ran from the group and called police. It later was learned that the three suspects took the victim’s vehicle and drove it into two parked cars in the same parking lot.

All three were charged with malicious destruction of property valued over $500, three counts of first-degree assault, auto theft, theft over $500, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, disorderly conduct, carjacking and robbery. Bryan Boley, 17, of Takoma Park, was charged an adult.

Under the Geneva Convention’s rules regarding treatment of diplomatic legations, diplomats and members of their immediate families are entitled to immunity from prosecution on charges committed in the United States.

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