Pakistan to Charge Detained American
ISLAMABAD — The mystery surrounding a U.S. government contractor who shot dead two armed men in Pakistan last month deepened on Friday when police publicly questioned the claim that he acted in self-defense and confirmed they plan to formally charge him with murder.
Pakistani authorities have identified the man as Raymond Davis. But much about him – including what exactly he was doing in Pakistan – remains unclear.
The U.S. government insists he is covered by diplomatic immunity and Pakistan’s custody of him, and plans to charge him, is severely fraying relations between the two nations at a time when broader cooperation on counterterrorism is faltering.
Police have held Mr. Davis since the shooting in Lahore in late January. On Friday, a court in Lahore, the capital of eastern Punjab province, ordered Mr. Davis moved to Kot Lakhpat jail in the city and held for 14 days.
Aslam Tareen, Lahore’s police chief, said Friday that preliminary investigations showed Mr. Davis did not act in self-defense when he shot the two armed men, as claimed by the U.S. government.
Police are moving closer to formally charging Mr. Davis with murder, Mr. Tareen said. He gave no further details.
U.S. officials say Mr. Davis worked out of the Consulate in Lahore. But they have declined to confirm what job Mr. Davis was doing beyond that he is covered by immunity from prosecution extended to “technical and administrative” staff of a diplomatic mission.
The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, the capital, says the men who attacked Mr. Davis were armed robbers who had earlier stolen money from other people in the area.
Mr. Davis had just withdrawn money from an ATM and was driving his Honda Civic when the two men confronted him, the embassy said.
A vehicle which attempted to come to Mr. Davis’s rescue, driven by an unknown person, killed a bystander, police said. The driver of this car was not arrested.
Pakistan Warns of Pressure Over U.S. Detainee
ISLAMABAD – Any U.S. pressure on Islamabad to release an American held for shooting dead two Pakistanis will be “counterproductive,” a senior government official said Saturday.
Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir issued the warning as the dispute between the two countries over the man’s fate reached new levels. In an apparent step to show its displeasure, the United States on Saturday postponed a meeting with Pakistani officials to discuss the war in Afghanistan that was to be held later this month.
The U.S. insists the American, Raymond Davis, is an embassy staffer who has diplomatic immunity and that he shot the two Pakistanis in self-defense when they tried to rob him at gunpoint in the eastern city of Lahore in late January.
Pakistani officials, fearful of a backlash in a population where anti-American fervor is widespread, have avoided verifying his diplomatic status and have referred the case to the courts. Police are pushing for murder charges against the 36-year-old Davis, a former U.S. Army Special Forces soldier.
U.S. officials have said they are considering several ways to add weight to their demands for the man’s release. His detention, Washington says, violates international agreements covering diplomatic ties.
One option was to delay the Washington meeting on the war in Afghanistan. On Saturday, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the U.S. had decided to put off the Feb. 23-24 gathering “in light of the political changes in Pakistan.” Afghan officials were also to have attended.