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Pakistan court defers immunity ruling for US killer

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, March 15, IRNA -- A Pakistani court here Monday disposed off case about diplomatic immunity of a CIA contractor, facing double murder charges, and ruled that lower court should hear the case where it has been registered.

Four petitions had been filed in the Lahore High Court, saying that Raymond Davis has no diplomatic immunity and that the government should be stopped from releasing him.

The Chief Justice ruled that the lower court should hear the case where the US employee has been charged in double murder case.

Lawyer for the federal government, Naveed Enayat, told the court that Davis had arrived in Pakistan on official visa and he has a diplomatic passport. He said the US embassy had wrote to the Foreign Ministry that Davis has a diplomatic passport and that he should be released and handed over to the US consulate in Lahore. He also said that Foreign Ministry is not interfering in the case.

Last month, the Lahore High Court had given a three-week time to the federal government to reply by March 14 if Raymond Davis is entitled to diplomatic immunity.
The Foreign Ministry had sought the time and a reply is possible later on Monday when the court resumes hearing.

Former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that the Foreign Ministry officials had told him at an exclusive briefing that Davis does not enjoy 'blanket immunity' as claimed by the US Embassy.

The incident case has soured relations with the United States and become a highly emotive issue in Pakistan. Pakistani and the US media report that the US shooter is a CIA contractor and had been on a mission in the country. Reports said that Pakistan's intelligence officials have asked the CIA to provide details of its agents in Pakistan.

Raymond Davis had claimed that he had fired in self-defense on January 27. Police investigators argued that he intentionally killed the two men. Another Pakistani was crushed to death by a US consulate car when it reached to help Davis.

Pakistani authorities have asked for the consulate vehicle and its driver to be handed over, but the US media reported that the driver has already reached the US to avoid trial in Pakistan.

The government is under pressure in the country not to bow to the US pressure and let the court decide the fate of the CIA agent.

The US calls for the release of Davis and even US President Barack Obama also said last month that Davis should have diplomatic immunity. The president had stated that it would be untenable if diplomats were prosecuted.

The US had also sent influential Senator John Kerry to Pakistan who met President Asif Ali Zardari in a bid to defuse tensions over the issue.

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