Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pak blocks move to hand over US man

Lahore: A Pakistani court on Tuesday blocked any move to free a US government employee under investigation for double murder as Washington stepped up calls for his release, citing diplomatic immunity. The US consular employee, whom Pakistani police identified as Raymond Davis, was arrested last Thursday after shooting dead two motorcyclists, claiming that he acted in self-defence, fearing that they were about to rob him. A third Pakistani was knocked down and killed by a vehicle from the US consulate in Lahore that tried to rescue Davis. The American was instead arrested by police and a case of double murder registered against him.

The incident has aroused huge controversy in Pakistan, dogged by rampant anti-Americanism over Washington’s alliance with an unpopular government, the war in Afghanistan and US missile attacks targeting Islamists in the northwest. A senior Pakistani judge in Lahore on Tuesday blocked any move to hand the American over to US authorities 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 Lahore high court chief justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry.

“An order is issued to put his name on the ECL (exit control list). The case is adjourned for 15 days.” AFP

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