Where is Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad al Thani? Beverly Hills wants to know
Beverly Hills police say they are continuing to investigate the case of the Ferrari drag race even though the whereabouts of the exotic car’s owner -- a member of Qatar’s ruling family -- remain unclear.
The controversy started when a video surfaced last weekend showing a yellow Ferrari valued in the seven figures speeding through stop signs and blazing past pedestrians. The video generated anger in Beverly Hills as well as a police investigation.
The car, police say, is owned by Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad al Thani, a well known figure in international racing circles.
The video showed the Ferrari and a Porsche speeding through narrow residential streets in Beverly Hills, prompting residents to call police. By the time an officer arrived, the two cars were outside a home on Walden Drive. Authorities said officers talked to Al Thani and that he denied he was driving the car. He also said he had diplomatic immunity, officials said -- something police now believe is untrue.
Al Thani left the country, and authorities say the Ferrari and the Porsche are no longer in Beverly Hills.
Over the weekend, there has been much speculation about where he is. A TV station in Vancouver, Canada, reported Sunday that he might be staying at a luxury hotel in that city and that his private plane was at a local airport. But that could not be confirmed.
Police said they are continuing to investigate the case. But they said they have been unable to prove who was behind the wheel of the cars.
“The drivers weren’t visible on the videos or photographs,” Lt. Lincoln Hoshino said.
Unless that changes, it might be difficult for police to build a case.
“The investigation remains open at this time,” Hoshino said. “We are seeking anyone with additional video which would identify the driver of the Ferrari or anyone who could positively identify the driver of the [other] vehicle.”
Al Thani was for years a high-profile sponsor of Al-Anabi Racing on the professional drag-racing circuit.
The Times reported that Al Thani formed a team in 2008 with drag-racing crew chief Alan Johnson. The team won championships in top fuel — the most elite class of dragsters — in 2010, 2011 and 2013 with three different drivers. Also in 2013, Al Thani signed a five-year contract extension with Johnson.
But this year, Al Thani unexpectedly pulled out of the team that he had reportedly been funding at $10 million annually.
Beverly Hills Police Chief Dominic Rivetti said at a news conference that Al Thani’s status would play no role in the investigation. Beverly Hills, he said, applies the law equally regardless of “who you are, who you know or where you are from.”
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