South Asia

Pakistan law minister speaks out over US Lahore deaths

Pakistani police escort US national Raymond Davis (centre) to a court in Lahore on 28 January 2011
Image caption Raymond Davis says the men were trying to hijack his vehicle at gunpoint

Pakistani Law Minister Babar Awan has spoken out over the case of a US man who killed two men in Lahore last week.

He said no foreign citizen was above the law.

The US embassy has called for the immediate release of Raymond Davis, saying he has diplomatic status and is immune from prosecution.

The authorities say he does not have diplomatic immunity and is not one of the foreign security personnel authorised to carry firearms.

Dr Awan said that although foreign diplomats enjoyed diplomatic immunity, "Pakistan has its own judicial system and everyone must respect it".

Magistrates have remanded Mr Davis in custody until next week while police investigate the shooting. He has been charged with the murder of the two men.

The US embassy in Islamabad has claimed diplomatic immunity on his behalf. They argue that he is a consulate employee who acted in "self-defence when confronted by two armed men on motorcycles" on 27 January.

Mr Davis is said to have told police that the motorcycle rider and his pillion passenger tried to hijack his vehicle at gunpoint.

Another person was run over and killed by a vehicle carrying Mr Davis's colleagues as they came to his aid.

Lawyers in Lahore have filed a petition to the High Court arguing that Mr Davis must stand trial in Pakistan and not be handed over to the US government.

The BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan in Pakistan says that speculation is rife over the true position of Mr Davis.

Our correspondent says that the US authorities pursued a soft tone immediately following the incident, but they have now hardened their stance and argued that he should be released according to the Vienna Convention.

Pakistani authorities say it increasingly appears that Mr Davis was a private security contractor working for the US government in Pakistan.

They said that a Glock pistol was recovered from Mr Davis and that pistols were also found on the two men who were shot dead.

Mr Davis's permanent employer, according to the Huffington Post website, is a company called Hyperion Protective Consultants LLC based in Orlando, Florida.

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