Pak brushes off US' demand for double murder accused diplomat's immediate release

Islamabad, Jan 30(ANI): Rebuffing the United States' demand for the immediate release of a US diplomat charged with double murder in Lahore, Pakistan has said the matter is sub-judice and the legal process should be respected.

"This matter is sub-judice in a court of law and the legal process should be respected," the Daily Times quoted Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abdul Basit, as saying in a statement.

He said a report in this regard was awaited from the Punjab Police, "and for this reason, the ministry has no substantive comments to offer."

Earlier, the US Embassy in Pakistan had called for an immediate release of the US diplomat "unlawfully detained by authorities in Lahore."

"On January 27, the diplomat acted in self-defence when confronted by two armed men on motorcycles. The diplomat had every reason to believe that the armed men meant him bodily harm. Minutes earlier, the two men, who had criminal backgrounds, had robbed money and valuables at gunpoint from a Pakistani citizen in the same area," said a US embassy press release.

"When detained, the U.S. diplomat identified himself to police as a diplomat and repeatedly requested immunity under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Local police and senior authorities failed to observe their legal obligation to verify his status with either the U.S. Consulate General in Lahore or the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad. Furthermore, the diplomat was formally arrested and remanded into custody, which is a violation of international norms and the Vienna Convention, to which Pakistan is a signatory," it added.

However, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said the US should respect Pakistan's courts and should raise the issue of diplomatic immunity there.

"The Punjab government respects the sentiments of the Pakistani public and wants to fulfil legal requirements," he said.

American influence would not be allowed to affect the criminal proceedings, Sanaullah added. (ANI)

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