LHC adjourns Davis hearing till March 8

US consulate nominates Syed Zahid Hussain Bukhari as lawyer for Raymond Davis


Express/reuters/afp March 03, 2011

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday said that the murder trial of Raymond Davis would go ahead, rejecting his plea that he could not be prosecuted because of diplomatic immunity. The hearing was adjourned till March 8.

"The court passed an order today saying that he (Davis) had failed to produce any legitimate document proving his diplomatic immunity," the lawyer representing the two men shot by him, Asad Manzoor Butt, told AFP after a closed-door hearing.

"The judge rejected his (Davis's) immunity claim after a lot of debate," Butt said.

His lawyer pleaded that he could not be prosecuted by this court because of the diplomatic immunity issue was pending in Lahore High Court, Butt said.

"The judge replied that the Lahore High Court had not barred him to proceed on the murder trial," Butt said.

Zahid Bokhari, Davis's lawyer, told AFP the judge had ordered the trial to continue because for the past one-and-a-half months no document had been produced in the court related to Davis's immunity.

The issue of his claim to diplomatic immunity is pending before the court which is due to rule on it on March 14.

"We will see the detailed written order by the judge and then will be able to tell whether he had rejected the claim of diplomatic immunity or not," Bokhari said.

"We have tried to stop this trial and asked for some documents related to this case from the court," said Bokhari, who appeared for the first time on behalf of Davis.

Security was tight at Kot Lakhpat jail, where the trial was held for security reasons. Machine guns were installed on top of water towers inside the jail and concrete barriers were placed on the road leading to it.

Davis, a former US special forces officer, has been charged with double-murder and faces possible execution.

On Wednesday, the Lahore High Court directed authorities to include news reports and articles on Raymond Davis in their records.

LHC Chief Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry gave the order while hearing a petition requesting the court to make the US government party to the Raymond Davis case.

The chief justice ruled out that possibility, saying the Pakistan government must first adopt a clear stand on the case.

At a previous hearing on February 25, Davis refused to sign the copy of the charge sheet, insisting that he be released and claiming that he enjoyed diplomatic immunity.

Under international laws, embassy diplomats have full diplomatic immunity whereas consular officials are liable for detention in case of grave crimes.

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