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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Pakistani Court Delays Decision on Detained American

VOA News February 17, 2011

A Pakistani court has delayed until next month a ruling on whether a detained U.S. State Department employee accused of murder has diplomatic immunity.

Raymond Davis is accused of shooting and killing two Pakistanis during an alleged attempted robbery in the eastern city of Lahore last month. The United States says Davis acted in self-defense and is a diplomat who should be released immediately under international conventions.

On Thursday, the chief judge of the Lahore High Court granted a Pakistani government request for a three-week delay in the hearing. The court will now consider Davis's status on March 14.

The U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter, said Thursday that the U.S. is disappointed the Pakistani government did not certify that Davis has diplomatic immunity. In a statement, Munter said the U.S. has made its position on the case clear.

Also Thursday, a Pakistani court extended Davis' judicial custody for 14 days in a separate case of illegal arms possession.

Pakistani police have rejected Davis' version of events and say that their investigation found it to be a case of murder.

The January incident, complicated by the death of a third Pakistani struck by a U.S. diplomatic vehicle rushing to Davis's aid, has inflamed anti-American sentiment across the country.

U.S. Senator John Kerry met with Pakistani leaders in Islamabad this week in a bid to try and resolve the dispute. On Wednesday he said the case was a "complicated political issue" but that he is hopeful the two countries will be able to resolve it soon.

Prime Minister Gilani's office said Wednesday there might be another solution to the case -- that relatives of the two killed Pakistanis pardon the American in return for compensation. Such a solution is in accordance with Islamic law.

Senator Kerry said that the U.S. government will launch its own criminal investigation into the incident if Davis is freed.

The State Department says Davis is a member of the administrative and technical staff of the U.S. embassy in Islamabad.

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