Supporters of the religious and political party Jamaat-e-Islami hold a banner that reads “Pakistani Demand to Hang Raymond Davis Immediately” while praying during a protest rally in Karachi January 30, 2011. – Photo by Reuters
ISLAMABAD: Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said Monday the courts should decide the fate of a US government employee, under investigation for double murder, after US lawmakers pressed for his release.
Six representatives of the US Congress asked Zardari to free Raymond Davis, who was arrestedafter killing two Pakistani motorcyclists in broad daylight on the streets of Lahore, in what the American said was self-defence.
“It would be prudent to wait for the legal course to be completed,”Zardari’s office quoted him as saying during the meeting, which the US embassy said was planned before last week’s killings.
Spokesman Farhatullah Babar said that while the president “appreciated” the Congressmen’s concern “the matter was already before the courts”.
The US embassy in Islamabad has requested Davis’ immediate release, calling him a consulate employee and claiming diplomatic immunity on his behalf.
Pakistan’s courts have refused to release the gunman, who claims he acted in self-defence to fend off an armed robbery.
A third Pakistani was crushed to death by a consulate car that went to help Davis following the shooting in a busy street in the eastern city of Lahore.
“Since two Pakistani men were killed and the third one died in the related accident, and panic was caused because of the actions of Raymond Davis, his trial should be held in Pakistan,” said the lawyer, Saeed Zafar.
A court official said that the Lahore chief justice “issued notices” to the country’s top prosecutor to seek government advice and respond on Tuesday.
The US embassy says Davis — whose exact status is unclear — was a member of the “technical and administrative staff” at the embassy.
Anti-US sentiment is high in Muslim country Pakistan, fanned by a US drone campaign in its northwest that has provoked deadly attacks by militants. – AFP
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