Double murder accused US citizen Raymond Davis has been sent on a 14-day judicial remand, while the government has sought three weeks time to file a reply on his immunity.
In the hearing at the Lahore High Court on Thursday, the Punjab government said that contrary to US claims, Davis does not have diplomatic immunity.
The LHC is competent to decide on his immunity regardless of the federal government’s claims, said Advocate-General Punjab Khawaja Haris appearing before the court on behalf of the Punjab government.
The provincial attorney-general said that to date no claim for immunity for Davis on account of his being employed or being a member of the US embassy in any capacity, had been received by the Punjab government.
One of the petitioners’ lawyer expressed apprehensions that as US authorities have admitted that Raymond Davis is not the accused person’s real name, he could be sent abroad under another name.
On this, Chief Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry directed the federal government not to remove Raymond Davis from the jurisdiction of the court under any name. The judge adjourned the hearing until March 14 as Deputy Attorney-General Naveed Inayat Malik, on behalf of the federal government, requested for three weeks time to file a reply in court.
He informed the court that in compliance of court orders, the name of the accused was put on the Exit Control List (ECL) and the Federal Investigation Agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, Military Intelligence and all other concerned authorities had been informed that Davis cannot be sent abroad.
Filing a written reply on behalf of the Punjab government, Khawaja Haris, defended the charges against Davis and said all proceedings were according to law and tried to convince the court that the accused does not have diplomatic immunity.
He said that no claim for immunity on account of Davis being employed by or being a member of the US Embassy in any of the capacities mentioned in Article 1 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, has been communicated to the Punjab government. He added that contradictory statements were being issued by US officials about immunity of the accused.
Meanwhile, a judicial magistrate sent Davis on a 14-day judicial remand in an illegal weapon case for not submitting a surety bond of Rs100,000 in the court after being granted bail.
The routine proceedings took more than five hours because the staff did not know how to use video conferencing. In such proceedings, the accused is not physically present in court.
Additional-Prosecutor General Abdul Samad appeared before the court. He contended that the accused has not submitted a surety bond of Rs100,000 regarding his bail in the case of carrying illegal weapons. He said the police have yet to submit a charge-sheet against Davis in the abovementioned case.
As the system only worked for five minutes, that’s the duration of time that Davis appeared on the screen. When the judge asked Davis if he wanted to say something, he refused. The court adjourned the hearing until March 3.
Additional Prosecutor also filed an application in the court of Yousif Aujla for jail trial. The prosecutor pleaded in an application that due to security risks, movement of the accused was not possible. Davis’ double murder trial will also be conducted by Yousif Aujla.
Meanwhile, Additional District & Sessions Judge Husnain Qadir has sought comments from SHO Lytton Road Police Station on a petition seeking addition of section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act and Espionage Act against Davis by amending FIR of double murder against him. Advocate Ghazi Ilam Din, who has filed the petition, said the police had recovered hi-tech equipment from the accused, which could only be used by spies.
Reacting to the hearings in Lahore, US Ambassador Cameron Munter said the United States is disappointed that the Government of Pakistan did not certify that Raymond Davis has diplomatic immunity. He added that the US has made its position on this case clear.
“Senator Kerry’s visit to Pakistan manifested our intention to work with the Government of Pakistan to resolve this issue.” Ambassador Munter said. “As the Senator said during his visit, we want to work together as two countries that have a common interest in the same goal and find a path forward.”
With additional reporting by Sumea Khan in Islamabad
Published in The Express Tribune, February 18th, 2011