Friday, February 25, 2011

Davis refuses to sign chargesheet claiming diplomatic immunity

CIA official Raymond Davis, charged with double murder after he shot dead two men on a busy Lahore street in December last, refused to sign a chargesheet on Friday, insisting that he had diplomatic immunity. 
According to the charge-sheet, Davis fired from inside his car at the two men, Fahim and Faizan, and then continued shooting from a Glock handgun with the bullets hitting Faizan in his back as he ran for cover. 
The chargesheet mentions that Davis later took pictures of the two men from his mobile phone and called someone in the American embassy through a wireless set to retrieve him. 

The hearing took place amid tight security in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail where US  consulate officials were also present. Public prosecutor Abdul Samad told reporters that Davis refused to sign the chargesheet saying he be released as he enjoys diplomatic immunity. Guarded by hundreds of policemen, Davis was produced handcuffed in the prison court. 
The lawyer for the family of the deceased, Asad Manzoor Butt, too appeared in the court and rejected the American’s immunity claim. “We, too, have received copies of the charge-sheet. We’ll pursue this case as we want Davis to be punished. We believe he does not enjoy immunity,’’ Samad said. 
The Davis issue continues to embarrass the Pakistan government. While American authorities insist that Davis has diplomatic immunity, a section of vocal Pakistanis led by former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi — he lost his job over the issue — says he was told by his advisors that Davis was not covered by any blanket immunity. 
The government has so far not declared Davis’s status. The court trying Davis has set a deadline of March 14 for the government to take a call on his immunity. Given public hostility, media’s proactive role and uproar within the religious right, it’s hard to see how the government will resolve the issue. 
“Davis’s case is not as simple as it is sometimes portrayed. It’s a complex case involving issues of national and international law as well as grave sensitivities that can’t be wished away,’’ said presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar. 
“The court has not only taken cognizance of it but also declared that it will decide on the immunity issue. We respect the court and await its verdict,’’ he added. 

American held in Pak for spying    

Islamabad:A second American national was arrested on Friday, in Peshawar, on charges of being a spy, a development that is bound to hit United States-Pakistan relations already strained by the Raymond Davis affair. Without specifying his status, the American embassy here said they are looking into the case. Aaron Mark Dehaven, known in Peshawar as Ahmed Haroon, is from West Virginia (US) and the law enforcement agencies say he is living illegally in Peshawar since his visa expired on October 23, 2010. Dehaven was taken by intelligence agencies to an undisclosed location for interrogation. Reliable sources told TOI that Dehaven has been living in Peshawar’s tony and secure Falcon Colony for the past three years. Dehaven had set up a private office in Pakistan’s most volatile city and hired several local people to work for him. He converted to Islam sometime back and married a Peshawar woman working in his office. A source said Dehaven was originally tasked to provide security to US officials visiting Peshawar. Intelligence officials have confiscated his car (registered in Islamabad; number: QB 565) and two cell phones. A case has been filed against him under the Foreigners Act. He will be produced in a local court on Saturday. Minister of state for foreign affairs Hina Rabbani Khar said that around 2,500 officials from 78 countries in Pakistan have diplomatic immunity while 55 are not covered by immunity.

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