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22 February 2024

Court to decide US gunman's immunity: Pakistani PM


Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said Wednesday that the courts would decide whether a US official who shot dead two Pakistanis was protected by diplomatic immunity, state media said.

Raymond Davis has insisted he acted in self-defence when he shot the two men in Lahore on January 27. A third Pakistani died when he was struck by a US diplomatic vehicle that came to Davis' assistance.

"Davis also has a lawyer, he will present his case and then the court will decide whether he has immunity or not," the Associated Press of Pakistan quoted Gilani as telling a convention of religious scholars.

Gilani urged the religious scholars to find a solution to the sensitive issue in accordance with Islamic law, under which a victim's family can pardon a killer in return for compensation.

"Ulema (Islamic scholars) should tell the solution. Either the heirs should give a pardon or ask about 'Qisas' (compensation) or the court should decide. We don't have any role," APP quoted him as saying.

Gilani said that the government was caught between a public backlash and international anger.
"We are facing difficult decisions. There is a political price," Gilani said.

"We are just caught between the devil and the deep sea. This needs wisdom. We will do whatever is in the interest of the country and the nation," he said.

Gilani said that the government had not bowed to US pressure even after President Barack Obama asked for immunity to Davis.

Pakistan's fragile ties with the United States have been plunged into crisis since Davis was taken into custody and admitted to shooting dead two men on a busy street in Lahore.

US senator John Kerry arrived late Tuesday in the eastern city to hold talks with Pakistani leaders to help resolve the bitter diplomatic row over the man's fate. He voiced deep regret over the killings.