Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pakistani Court: US National Arrested in Killings Has No Immunity

Via -

A Pakistani court ruled Thursday that a US national held for killing two people had failed to provide evidence that he had diplomatic immunity, lawyers said.

The US government has repeatedly said that Raymond Davis, a former special forces soldier, was an employee of its embassy in Islamabad, a claim that many Pakistani officials have challenged.

He was arrested after he allegedly shot two motorbike riders January 27 in Lahore, the capital of the eastern province of Punjab, in what he said was self-defence during an armed robbery attempt.

Asad Manzoor Butt, a lawyer representing the victims, said Judge Yousuf Ojla ruled the accused had failed to produce any documents that could show that he was really a US diplomat and enjoyed diplomatic immunity.


During Thursday's court proceedings, Davis was represented for the first time by a lawyer. Previously, he had told the court that he could not be charged because he had diplomatic immunity.

The Davis case has increased tensions between the United States and Pakistan. The Pakistani government fears his release could provoke a public backlash in an already politically unstable environment where anti-Americanism dominates.

Alberto Rodriguez, a US embassy spokesman, said his government had yet to see an official response about diplomatic immunity for Davis.

'We are working closely with the government of Pakistan to resolve this issue as it is important for our bilateral relations,' he said.

Senator John Kerry, chairman of the US Senate's Foreign Relations Committee, held talks with Pakistani civilian and military leaders last week to try to persuade them to release Davis.

The New York Times and Washington Post reported last week that Davis was not an embassy employee but a security contractor for the Central Intelligence Agency who had worked for private security firms, including Blackwater Worldwide, which is now known as Xe Services, for the CIA, operating out of a safe house in Lahore.

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