Islamabad: The heirs of the two Pakistani men shot dead by CIA operative Raymond Davis in Lahore were not pressurised in any way to accept blood-money and pardon the American, their lawyer has said.
Davis, who was arrested in Lahore for killing Faizan Haider and Faheem Shamshad on January 27, was released last week as the bereaved families pardoned him in return for blood-money worth 200 million rupees.
“I had arranged a meeting at some place in Defence (Housing Society), Lahore, where I was staying, and in my presence 18 legal heirs were paid the diyat amount in cash according to the Islamic law of inheritance,” a newspaper quoted Advocate Raja Mohammad Irshad, as telling on the telephone from his native village outside Islamabad.
Irshad, who represented the federal government before the Supreme Court consecutively for six years from 2002 as Deputy Attorney General, said he had no idea who paid the blood money, adding that it was brought by an individual who was surely not a foreigner.
“There was no coercion, there was no pressure, and everything was done freely,” he said, apparently referring to allegations of arm-twisting first voiced by another lawyer in Lahore, Asad Manzoor Butt, who said he was the original counsel of the victims` families but was not allowed by jail authorities to appear at the last hearing.
Irshad chose not to explain how he was engaged by the victims’ legal heirs to represent them, but said that they had complete confidence in him, which was reinforced by the fact that he served to enhance the blood money to 200 million rupees from the earlier agreed amount of 20-30 million rupees.
“I played the role in increasing the amount because the money which was to be paid to the inheritors earlier was neither acceptable nor justified,” Irshad said, dismissing speculations that the compensation could have been much greater or that the two families were given only a fraction of the total amount paid.
“These are highly irresponsible statements and should not be hurled when no evidence is in hand to substantiate them,” he said, also brushing aside an impression that Davis’ acquittal was the result of procedural or legal irregularities.
The judge had independently conducted the entire proceedings, during which he repeatedly told the defence counsel and the prosecution that they were entitled to raise any objection they deemed necessary, he added.
Irshad also rejected the allegations that the sessions court had exercised its authority without any jurisdiction and that the case should have been dealt with by an anti-terrorism court.
“If it were so, then why Davis was booked under section 302 (murder charge) of the Pakistan Penal Code, and not under sections 6 or 7 of the Anti-Terrorist Act, 1997,” he questioned.
Irshad also said that the victims’ heirs were still in the country, but acknowledged that they were afraid of the hue and cry raised over their acceptance of the blood money.
The court had accepted the pardon statements after asking questions from each member of the victims’ families and having completely satisfying itself, he stressed.
All documentation work and proceedings were conducted in Urdu language instead of English (the usual court language) to enable the victims’ families to understand every word being spoken there, the lawyer added.