Thursday, February 17, 2011
No immunity for capital crimes: AG Punjab
The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday adjourned until next month a decision on whether the detained US national who killed two local men had diplomatic immunity in a case that has pushed ties between two allies toward a breaking point.
The Advocate General (AG) Punjab Khuwaja Haris told the court that the detained American possessed illegal weapons and equipment. He said there was no immunity for diplomats involved in serious crimes.
The Obama administration has piled pressure on
leaders in Pakistan, an important U.S. ally against Islamist militants, to arrange for Raymond Davis’ release and avoid a precedent being set for trials of U.S. officials abroad.
During the course of hearing, the ministry of foreign affairs sought more time to submit its formal reply on the case upon which the LHC adjourned the case until March 14
U.S. officials were earlier expected to present a petition to the court, asserting the U.S. consulate employee was a diplomat.
But Pakistani lawyers say that Davis whose fate has galvanized anti-American fury in Pakistan, should be tried by a local court just like anyone else.
Raymond Davis, a former Special Forces soldier shot and killed two men on Jan. 27 in Lahore.
“Raymond Davis does not enjoy unfettered immunity,” said Azhar Siddique, a lawyer who will argue before the court.
Yet neither can Pakistan ignore potentially explosive emotions over the shooting incident, which also resulted in the death of a third man run over by a U.S. vehicle that came to Davis’ rescue.