Davis booked for murder, US-Pak stand-off intensifies

Last Updated: Friday, February 11, 2011 - 19:26

Lahore/Islamabad: The tense standoff
between the US and Pakistan intensified on Friday as the Lahore
police charged American official Raymond Davis of
"cold-blooded" murder, ignoring pressure from Washington for
his immediate release.

The tussle became murkier as an American channel
reported that Obama`s National Security Advisor Tom Donilon
threatened to "kick out" the Pakistan envoy Hussain Haqqani,
if Islamabad failed to release Davis by today.

But later, both Haqqani and a US embassy spokesperson
in Pakistan termed the report as inaccurate.

Davis, 36, who was arrested for shooting down and
killing two Pakistanis, was remanded to a further 14 days of
judicial custody by a court till the next hearing on February
25.

Rejecting the self defence plea of Davis, Lahore
police chief Aslam Tareen said they had framed murder charges
against him after finding no proof to back his claim that he
had shot and killed two men in self-defence.

"His self-defence plea was considered and keeping in
view the witnesses and the forensic (reports), that has been
rejected by the investigators," he told a press conference.
The killing of the two men was an "intentional" and
"cold blooded murder," Tareen said.

The stand-off between Pakistan and the US over Davis,
who Washington says enjoys diplomatic immunity, has taken the
already tense relationship between the two countries to a new
low.

The US has suspended all high-level contacts with
Pakistan and reports have suggested they will not be resumed
till Davis is freed. But, top Pakistani leaders have so far
rebuffed US demands for Davis to be freed, saying the matter
will be decided in court according to the country`s laws.

US lawmakers have also warned that the matter could
affect American civil and military aid to Pakistan running
into billions of dollars.

Meanwhile, officials in Lahore said police are
expected to submit a `challan` or charge-sheet against Davis
in court after the completion of his judicial remand.

The ABC report earlier said that US NSA Donilon told
Pakistani envoy Haqqani on Monday that the Obama
administration will "kick him out of the US", close consulates
in Pakistan and cancel President Asif Ali Zardari`s upcoming
visit to Washington if Davis is not released by Friday.

Haqqani denied the development via Twitter, saying in
a message that no "US official, incl the NSA, has conveyed any
personal threats 2 me or spoken of extreme measures".

The US embassy in Islamabad also denied the report
terming it as "simply inaccurate". A brief statement issued by the US Embassy`s
spokesperson said: "Although we are unable to discuss the
substance of a private diplomatic meeting, US Embassy
Islamabad can state categorically that the description of the
conversation in this report is simply inaccurate".

Davis has claimed that he opened fire after the two
armed men followed his car and tried to rob him on January 27
in a Lahore market.

A third Pakistani died after he was hit by a US
consulate care rushing to aid Davis.

Davis was initially identified as a consulate official
but the US later said he was a diplomat and enjoyed immunity
under the Vienna convention.

Video emerged this week of Davis showing his State
Department credentials to Pakistani police officers during an
interrogation and saying, "I`m a consultant".

Davis was brought to the judicial magistrate`s court
in Model Town area of Lahore in an armoured vehicle amidst
tight security today.

In an apparent attempt to confuse a large number of
local and foreign journalists tracking the movements of Davis,
police sent two armoured vehicles to as many courts.

Shortly after the court gave its order, Davis was
taken to Kot Lakhpat jail. Authorities had recently made
special arrangements for him at the prison.

Earlier, Davis was presented before the judicial
magistrate on January 28, when he was remanded to police
custody till February 3.

The remand was subsequently extended till February 11.

A report in the News daily said today that the Punjab
government will deploy multiple security cordons, including
that of Rangers, in the Kot Lakhpat Jail "to pre-empt a
possible Hollywood Rambo-style sting operation by the US
forces to get Raymond Davis released".

PTI



First Published: Friday, February 11, 2011 - 19:26

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