'Blood money' frees CIA contractor Davis in Pakistan
Islamabad: The Raymond Davis saga finally seemed to come to a conclusion on Wednesday after a Pakistan court acquitted the US diplomat-cum- CIA contractor as the relatives of the victims agreed to accept blood money in exchange for pardon.
American CIA contractor Raymond Allen Davis has been in jail since Jan. 27 after he was arrested on the account of shooting and killing two Pakistanis. His detention was known to seriously strain the US-Pak relations.
Shortly after Additional District and Sessions Judge Yousuf Aujla indicted Davis on murder charges during in-camera proceedings at the Kot Lakhpat Jail, 18 relatives of the dead men appeared in the makeshift court and said they were willing to forgive the American if compensation was paid under the
Qisas and Diyat Law.
"The relatives appeared in court and independently told the judge that they had accepted the diyat (compensation) and forgiven him," said Rana Sanaullah, the Law Minister of Punjab province.
"The court then acquitted him. The court proceedings were completed according to the law. The Punjab government didn’t talk to anyone and we were not part of (this arrangement)," Sanaullah said.
36-year-old Davis paid Rs 6 crore as 'diyat' to the relatives of the dead men in the presence of the judge, Geo News channel quoted its sources as saying.
The relatives gave a written undertaking about accepting the "blood money" and asked the judge to free Davis.
The judge accepted this and acquitted Davis, the channel reported. "Blood money" is paid to the next of kin of a murder victim as a fine.
Sanaullah said that under Pakistani and Islamic laws, the relatives of the dead men had the legal right to accept 'diyat' and forgive the accused.
"The government and the prosecutors cannot prevent that," he said.
The Punjab government had "always said we would accept whatever decision is made by the court", Sanaullah said.
"The government cannot give orders to the judiciary," he added.
Judge Aujla also disposed of another case against Davis for illegal possession of a weapon, saying the time he had spent in prison would be considered as his punishment.
Davis paid a fine of Rs 30,000 in connection with this case on the orders of the court.
Media reports said US officials whisked Davis, 36, from Kot Lakhpat Jail soon after he was acquitted by the judge.
There were also reports that he would flown out of Pakistan on a special flight though this could not immediately be confirmed.
Sources said that the Saudi Arabian government played a key role in secret negotiations to arrange the "blood money" deal to settle Davis’ case, which had resulted in Pakistan-US ties plunging to a new low.
The Saudi royal family played a key role in convincing Pakistan’s radical groups and religious hardliners to agree to the deal, the sources said.