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Pak-US squabble over murder accused American

February 01, 2011 15:28 IST

The United States on Tuesday accused Pakistan of violating the Vienna Convention by detaining one of its diplomats, who is currently in police custody for shooting down two persons in Lahore last week.

"When he was detained, he identified himself to the police as a diplomat and repeatedly requested immunity under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations," State Department spokesman P J Crowley told reporters.

"We have called for his immediate release. He 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," Crowley said.

"In our view, he acted in self defence when confronted by two armed men on motorcycles. He had every reason to believe that the armed men meant him bodily harm. And minutes earlier, the two men, who had criminal backgrounds, had robbed money and valuables at gunpoint from a Pakistani citizen in the same area," he said in response to a question.

Crowley, however, refrained from identifying the diplomat, who media reports have named as Raymond Davis.

A Pakistani court has barred the government from handing Davis over to the US.

Lahore High Court Chief Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry issued the order in response to a petition filed by lawyer Saeed Zafar, who had asked the court to direct the government not to hand over the American to the US.

The chief justice also directed authorities to put the American's name on the Exit Control List, which contains the names of people barred from travelling out of Pakistan.

"We restrain the government from handing over Raymond Davis to the US as the court has to decide the case," Chaudry observed. The government should inform the high court whether Davis enjoys diplomatic immunity, he said.

Deputy Attorney General Navid Malik, who represented the federal government at the hearing, said the US administration had not yet told Pakistan about the diplomatic status of Davis. He sought time from the court so that the government could establish Davis' diplomatic status.

Following this, the high court adjourned proceedings for two weeks. Davis was arrested after he shot and killed two youths when they were alleged were trying to rob him in a busy commercial area of Lahore on Thursday. A third Pakistani died when he was hit by a US consulate car that was rushing to the aid of the American.

Lalit K Jha In Washington
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