LHC blocks moves to hand over Davis - Pakistan Today

LHC blocks moves to hand over Davis

LAHORE/ISLAMABAD – As the United States again called for the release of Raymond Davis, the American ‘diplomat’ accused of killing two young men, saying that he acted in legitimate self-defence, the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday blocked any move to free Davis, and put his name on the Exit Control List.
“I am restraining him (from being handed over to US authorities). Whether he has or does not have (diplomatic) immunity will be decided by the court,” ruled LHC CJ Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry. “An order is issued to put his name on the ECL. The case is adjourned for 15 days.” A lawyer had petitioned the LHC under public interest laws to block any move to hand Davis over to the US.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said, “He (Davis) is a member of the embassy’s technical administrative staff and therefore entitled to full criminal immunity. He cannot be lawfully arrested or detained in accordance with the Vienna Convention.” In another development, Imran Haider, brother of one of the deceased, filed a petition in the LHC asking for the formation of a high-profile police investigation team to probe into the matter.
Meanwhile, there’s a likelihood that the Foreign Ministry will grant diplomatic immunity to the detained US citizen. A diplomat seeking anonymity told Pakistan Today, “The Pakistani government is in a fix as on one hand it’s the intense pressure being exerted by the Obama administration for the release of Davis and on other, it has to take care of strong public sentiment, hence it’s struggling hard how to find a solution to this issue that not only satisfies Washington but also avert any strong outburst across the country among the masses.”
“In this backdrop, Islamabad is engaged in hectic consultations with Washington on how to reach an agreed settlement to the row over Davis. One way out for the government is to prevail upon the US authorities to avoid haste and watch patiently the court proceedings on Davis’ case and in the process, the FO will come up with an immunity for the US citizen and that could result in his acquittal from the court of law,” he said.
“The consensus is emerging among different stakeholders in Islamabad as well as the US administration that instead of making any hasty decision, there shall not be any interference in the domain of courts and rather a legal way, which in this case seems to be presenting immunity for Davis in the court of law, shall be opted for,” the diplomat said.
The issue has also strained the relations between the federal and Punjab governments as the authorities in Lahore feel that in order to avert a possible political backlash and also to save itself from Washington’s wrath, Islamabad is passing the buck to them saying they and the courts would tackle the contentious issue.
Then there are strong complaints by the Punjab government that the FO is not cooperating with it when it comes to pressurising the US Consulate in Lahore to cooperate with the police and hand over the driver of car that ran over and killed the third person after Davis shot dead two Pakistanis a while ago.

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