Lahore court rejects Davis plea for bail, immunity -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Lahore court rejects Davis plea for bail, immunity

By Numan Wahab

LAHORE: Additional District and Sessions Judge, Lahore, Yousaf Aujla, on Thursday rejected the application of Raymond Davis, a US national double murder accused, for seeking diplomatic immunity, ruling that the trial would go ahead as Davis had failed to establish that he enjoyed such immunity.

The same court also extended the judicial remand of Davis by March 15 in a case of carrying illegal weapons, directing the police to submit a challan of the case on the next hearing.

The second hearing of the double murder trial against Raymond took place inside the Kot Lakhpat Jail amid tight security as large contingents of law-enforcement agencies had cordoned off the jail premises. Media persons were again barred from attending the trial proceedings. Only US Consul General in Lahore, Carmela Conroy, was allowed to attend the proceedings.

The jail authorities produced handcuffed Raymond before the court. On the last hearing, Raymond had submitted an application before the court, contending that he enjoyed diplomatic immunity and any Pakistani court could not try him.

On Thursday, a senior lawyer Zahid Hussain Bukhari appeared on behalf of Davis and produced the power of attorney signed by Davis. Two other counsels were also present in the court with Bukhari.

A letter of US Embassy was also produced in the court to establish that Davis was holding a diplomatic passport and enjoyed diplomatic immunity. The court, however, rejected the plea, saying neither it was an official document nor it was conveyed to the court by a government official.

Bukhari pointed out that it was not the court or Davis himself but the federal government to decide about his immunity. He argued that the trial court should stop hearing the case as immunity issue was pending in the Lahore High Court and it would be appropriate to wait till the LHC decision.

The judge again declined his request, saying the LHC had not stopped him from holding the trial. The counsel for the complainant, Asad Manzoor Butt, said that under Article 4 of Diplomatic and Privileges Act 1972, made in line with Vienna Convention, the government should issue a certificate about diplomatic immunity of an individual but the same had not been done in instant case despite a lapse of 40 days.

As the court wanted to frame charges against accused Davis, his counsel Bukhari again raised a point that court could not frame charges yet as complete copies of case record were not provided to the accused on last hearing.

The judge deferred the issue of framing charges by Mach 8 and directed prosecutors to provide complete copies of case to the accused. As per the challan submitted by the police, Davis opened fire from inside his car on two Pakistani citizens – Fahim and Faizan – and then, after coming out of his vehicle, shot Faizan twice on his back.

According to witnesses, the accused after killing both bike-riders took their pictures and called someone through a wireless set to rescue him. On March 14, the Lahore High Court would decide the issue of Davis’s immunity with subject to State’s reply in this regard.
Source: The News
Date:3/4/2011