A Pakistani court on Tuesday barred the government from handing over to the US an American national facing a double murder charge for gunning down two Pakistanis last week and put his name on the Exit Control List.
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 whom he 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. The American, currently in police custody, contended during a court appearance last week that he had acted in self-defence. Pakistani authorities have rejected a demand by the US for the release of the American.
The US has argued that the American is a member of the technical and administrative staff of the US Embassy in Islamabad and enjoyed diplomatic immunity.
Police in Lahore have registered a case against the American for illegally carrying a weapon. The US national was armed with a Glock 9mm pistol.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said that the federal government and the Foreign Office would decide whether the American was entitled to diplomatic immunity. President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday said that the American’s case would be decided by the court. Though police officials have confirmed that the two youths shot by the American were armed and were involved in a robbery, religious group and political parties have stepped up pressure on the government not to release him.