Pak rejects demand to release American diplomat

Rezaul H Laskar

Islamabad, Jan 30 (PTI) Pakistani authorities haverejected the demand of the US to release an American diplomatwho shot dead two youths in Lahore, saying the matter would behandled in court according to the country�s laws.

Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit told a TV newschannel today that the matter was already in court and thePunjab Police were investigating the shooting incident inLahore on Thursday.

"It would not be appropriate to publicly talk on thisissue," he said.

US Ambassador Cameron Munter raised the issueyesterday with former premier Nawaz Sharif, whose PML-N partyrules Punjab.

Munter expressed regret over the death of Pakistaninationals in the Lahore incident and contended that theAmerican should be handed over to US custody since he enjoyeddiplomatic immunity.

Sharif "politely turned down the plea, saying that thematter was sub judice", the Dawn newspaper reported today.

PML-N spokesman Pervaiz Rashid told the media thatSharif believed the matter should be handled by the court.

The Foreign Office had rejected the US demand forfreeing the American yesterday.

"This matter is sub-judice in a court of law and thelegal process should be respected," spokesman Basit said in astatement.

The US had yesterday sought the immediate release ofthe American, identified in media reports as Raymond Davis,saying he was a diplomat and enjoyed diplomatic immunity.

The American shot and killed two armed youths who heclaimed were trying to rob him.

A third Pakistani national died when he was hit by aUS consulate car rushing to the aid of the American. The USembassy did an about-turn on the status of the Americanyesterday.

After initially describing him as a "staff member ofthe US Consulate General in Lahore", the US said yesterday hewas a diplomat assigned to the embassy in Islamabad.

During a court appearance on Friday, the American saidhe had fired in self-defence. He is currently in policecustody for six days.

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