Pak rejects demand to free American; Gilani says no comments

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, even as Prime MinisterYousuf Raza Gilani declined to comment on the case saying thematter was in court and under investigation.

Gilani said he could not comment on the incidentbecause "it was sub-judice and the Punjab government wasconducting an inquiry". He said he had already condemned theincident.

"The federal government is not silent over thismatter, which is in court," Gilani said while interacting withjournalists in his hometown of Multan.

He said he had also discussed the issue on phone withPunjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.

"The Punjab government is conducting an inquiry intothis matter and I will not comment till it is completed,"Gilani said.

Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar told themedia that no pressure can force authorities to free theAmerican.

The matter is in the court, which will make adecision, he said.

Pakistani authorities have already rejected a USdemand to release an American who shot dead two youths inLahore, saying the matter would be handled in court accordingto the country''s laws.

Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit told the mediatoday that the matter was already in court and Punjab Policewere investigating Thursday''s shooting incident in Lahore.

"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 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 said Sharif believedthe matter should be handled by the court.

The American � identified in media reports as RaymondDavis � shot and killed two armed youths who he claimed weretrying to rob him. .

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