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Updated: February 17, 2011 13:16 IST

Pak court adjourns U.S. diplomat’s immunity case till March 14

PTI
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Supporters of Pakistani religious party Jammat-e-Islami carry an effigy during a protest against the visit of U.S. Sen John Kerry and the statement of the U.S. President Obama regarding release of a U.S. consulate employee Raymond Davis who allegedly shot dead two Pakistanis, in Karachi, Pakistan on Wednesday. Photo: AP.
Supporters of Pakistani religious party Jammat-e-Islami carry an effigy during a protest against the visit of U.S. Sen John Kerry and the statement of the U.S. President Obama regarding release of a U.S. consulate employee Raymond Davis who allegedly shot dead two Pakistanis, in Karachi, Pakistan on Wednesday. Photo: AP.

After hearing the arguments of the lawyers for the federal and provincial governments, Chief Justice Chaudhry said: "How can the court proceed further in the case till the Foreign Office tells us about his (Davis’) diplomatic status?"

A Pakistani court today adjourned till March 14 the hearing of a case regarding the diplomatic status of a U.S. official arrested for gunning down two men after the federal government sought more time to furnish a reply in this regard.

Deputy Attorney General Naveed Inayat Malik, who represented the federal government at today’s hearing, told Lahore High Court Chief Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry that the Foreign Ministry needed more time to submit a response on the diplomatic status of US official Raymond Davis.

Khwaja Haris, the Advocate General of the Punjab government, told the court that the federal government alone could determine whether Mr. Davis has diplomatic immunity.

He argued that the Vienna Convention does not give blanket immunity to persons involved in heinous crimes.

Mr. Davis had been charged for murder by police, he remarked.

After hearing the arguments of the lawyers for the federal and provincial governments, Chief Justice Chaudhry said: “How can the court proceed further in the case till the Foreign Office tells us about his (Davis’) diplomatic status?”

The Chief Justice subsequently adjourned the matter till March 14.

The High Court is hearing several similar petitions asking it to direct authorities to prosecute Mr. Davis.

An application was also filed today by lawyer Azhar Siddique to make former Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi party to the case as he has disclosed that the Foreign Office was of the opinion that Mr. Davis does not enjoy “blanket immunity“.

Deputy Attorney General Malik also informed the court that Mr. Davis’ name had been included on the government’s Exit Control List to bar him from leaving Pakistan.

Authorities were continuing a probe to determine whether Mr. Davis had diplomatic immunity, he said.

Mr. Davis was arrested in Lahore on January 27 after he shot and killed two Pakistani men who, he said, were trying to rob him.

The U.S. has insisted that Mr. Davis has diplomatic immunity and demanded several times that he should be released immediately.

Pakistan’s top leadership, including President Asif Ali Zardari, have said that Mr. Davis’ case is already in the court and will be decided according to the country’s laws.

U.S. President Barack Obama waded into the diplomatic row for the first time on Tuesday, saying Pakistan should release Mr. Davis on grounds of diplomatic immunity.

The issue has taken Pakistan—US relations to a new low and American lawmakers have warned that the detention of the official could affect civil and military aid.

The U.S. has also postponed a trilateral meeting with Pakistan and Afghanistan scheduled for this month due to the row.

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