LAHORE: The US diplomat involved in gunning down two Pakistanis in Lahore appeared in court on Friday and was ordered to be held in police custody over the deaths of two men he said he killed in self defence, police said.
Raymond Davis, described by the US State Department as an American civilian working for the US consulate in the city, was being held at the Lyton Road police station in Lahore on double murder charges over the deaths of two motorcyclists. 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 on Thursday.
“We produced the American in the court of magistrate Zafar Iqbal, who remanded him into police custody for six days,” senior police official Zulfiqar Hameed told AFP, adding that Davis would appear in court again on Thursday.
Police identified the gunman as Davis and said he described himself as a “technical adviser” with the consulate.
Post mortem examinations of the three victims killed in the incident — Ubaidul Rehman, Faheem and Faizan Haider — have been released.
The report states that Rehman died of heart and head trauma after he was rammed by the US consulate vehicle that arrived on the scene of the incident later on. Faheem was fatally shot by Raymond four times while Haider, who died in the hospital was shot thrice.
The post-mortem examinations were delayed overnight because of protests by family members of the deceased. Raymond Davis said he will ask the victims’ families to pardon him.
Two handguns were found close to the victims’ bodies, officers said, but police chief Aslam Tarin said they so far appeared to have no previous criminal record.
Imran Haider, the elder brother of one of the motorcyclists, said his brother only carried a pistol for protection, following the death of a third brother last month, and insisted the gun was licensed.
He said his brother was travelling home with his friend from a court hearing when the incident took place. “My brother was innocent, he was not a criminal. We need justice,” said the 34-year-old, adding that his mother had been hospitalised with a pre-existing heart condition following her son’s death.
Police officer Ahmed said another murder case had been registered against unknown foreigners in the second vehicle over the death of the third man.
The US embassy in Islamabad confirmed that Davis was a consular worker but said it was still trying to work out with the police what had happened. There was confusion over whether foreigners were allowed to carry a weapon.
Police in Lahore said they were seeking legal advice on the matter, while a senior lawyer in Islamabad, Ali Zafar, told AFP that special permission was required for a foreigner to be armed. A Western security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was extremely rare for Pakistani authorities to grant weapons permits to foreigners.
“It’s a very sensitive issue here so getting a permit is virtually impossible for a foreigner. It would be extremely surprising if the American in Lahore had a permit,” he told AFP.
‘Davis will not be given VIP protocol’
Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said that Davis will not be given VIP protocol and will be sent to jail after interrogation. He said that no one was above the law and that the Punjab government was taking action under its legislation.
Sanaullah also said that Davis seemed to have been on personal business at the time of the shooting.
“He said that he was returning from withdrawing cash from a bank and we are verifying this,” Sanaullah told a news conference in Lahore.
“Every citizen has the right of self-defence but there are several requirements for the claim of self-defence. If those requirements have been met, he can use it in court.”
He said the US consulate had agreed to release the second vehicle to police.
The minister said a team headed by the Lahore CCPO had been formed to probe the incident.
US seeks to avoid backlash from Lahore shooting
The United States said it wanted to avoid any anti-American backlash.
“We want to make sure that a tragedy like this does not affect the strategic partnership that we’re building with Pakistan,” State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters.
“And we’ll work as hard as we can to explain that to the Pakistani people,” he said.
Law Minister Sanaullah also said that no US pressure would be allowed to influence the criminal case.
“We will not accept any pressure in this case. The guilty will be punished and the innocent will get justice,” he told reporters.
Davis belongs to Virginia, US and can claim diplomatic immunity in court.