Pakistan rebuffs US call for gunman’s release
PAKISTAN: Pakistan Sunday rebuffed a call from the United
States for the immediate release of an American man who shot dead two
men in a Lahore street, saying its legal process must be respected.
The US embassy had claimed diplomatic immunity on behalf of Raymond
Davis, previously described as a consulate employee, who is under
investigation on double murder charges after shooting dead the two
motorcyclists this week.
“This matter is sub judice in a court of law and the legal process
should be respected,” Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit
said in a statement, adding that a report was awaited from Punjab
Davis, who has been held at a Lahore police station since the
incident, appeared before a magistrate’s court Friday and said he had
fired in self-defence. He was remanded into police custody for six days.
On Saturday, two days after the deadly shooting, the US embassy in
Islamabad released a statement saying he had diplom- atic status and was
therefore being detained unlawfully.
“When detained, the US diplomat identified himself to police as a
diplomat and repeatedly requested immunity under the Vienna Convention
on Diplomatic Relations,” it said.
“Local police and senior authorities failed to observe their legal
obligation to verify his status with either the US consulate general in
Lahore or the US embassy in Islamabad.
“Furthermore, the diplomat was formally arrested and remanded into
custody, which is a violation of international norms and the Vienna
Convention, to which Pakistan is a signatory.”
The statement said the man had a diplomatic passport and a visa for
Pakistan valid until June 2012, and added that he had acted in self-defence
when two armed men on motorcycles tried to rob him.
“The diplomat had every reason to believe that the armed men meant
him bodily harm. Minutes earlier, the two men, who had criminal
backgrounds, had robbed money and valuables at gunpoint from a Pakistani
citizen in the same area,” it said.
Provincial law minister Rana Sanaullah said that the US should
respect Pakistan’s courts and should raise the issue of diplomatic
“The Punjab government respects the sentiments of the Pakistani
public and wants to fulfil legal requirements,” he told AFP in Lahore.
Islamabad, Sunday, AFP