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Pakistani authorities have extended the detention of a US consulate employee who is accused of killing two Pakistani men. He claims he shot the two men, who were trying to rob him, in self-defense.
A third man was killed when a US consular vehicle ran him over as it came to the aid of the employee, Raymond Davis.
The incident has heightened tensions in Pakistan, where anti-American sentiments run deep due in no small part to US drone strikes in the tribal areas, the war in Afghanistan, and the government’s alliance with the US. American officials say that Mr. Davis has diplomatic immunity and should be released.
Davis has admitted to shooting the two motorcyclists in Lahore, but says they were armed and threatened him. The US embassy in Islamabad has backed Davis’s version of events, but Pakistani authorities say they need more time to conduct investigations, reports the BBC. Pakistani authorities are charging Davis with murder and possession of an illegal weapon. They say that Davis is not on the list of US officials authorized to carry a gun in the country.
According to the US embassy, the two men Davis shot have a criminal history and had robbed someone else moments before approaching Davis, reports CNN. Police found pistols and several magazines on the bodies of the two Pakistani men. Davis, for his part, was reportedly carrying a Glock pistol and four loaded magazines.
“The diplomat acted in self-defense when confronted by two armed men on motorcycles,” said the US embassy. “The diplomat had every reason to believe that the armed men meant him bodily harm.”
Although US officials say Davis is entitled to diplomatic immunity, Pakistani officials say that Davis has not adequately proved it, reports Xinhua. His name has been placed on the exit control list to stop him from leaving the country and Pakistani authorities will hold him in prison for at least another eight days.
Some Pakistanis are advocating that Davis be tried on terror charges, alleging that he shot two innocent people. Advocate Rana Ilmuddin Ghazi has filed a petition stating that Davis was not a diplomat and extending him immunity would be a “violation of all international conventions,” reports the Daily Times. Mr. Ghazi pushed to provide no leniency for Davis.
Meanwhile, another article in the Daily Times reports that the families of the Pakistanis shot by Davis are not satisfied with the investigations into the incident. The relatives claim that they were asked to forgive Davis or face “dire consequences.” The relatives held a press conference on Wednesday in which they urged the government to try Davis using anti-terror laws. Protestors gathered at the event chanting slogans like “hang Davis.”
Still there remains some hope that Davis could be released. Interior Minister Rehman Malik has confirmed that the consular employee holds a diplomatic passport. Mr. Malik also urged the media to avoid “hyped” coverage that distorts the facts, reports Agence France-Presse.
“The file is with me and whenever the high court needs this file, the file will be presented to the court,” he said. “Don't do misreporting based on presumptions, let's not hype [the issue]. We will provide whatever information the court requires.”