Pak court bars govt from sending American national to US

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M Zulqernain

Lahore, Feb 1 (PTI) A Pakistani court today barred thegovernment from handing over to the US an American nationalfacing a double murder charge for gunning down two Pakistanislast week and put his name on the Exit Control List.

Lahore High Court Chief Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhryissued the order in response to a petition filed by lawyerSaeed Zafar, who had asked the court to direct the governmentnot to hand over the American to the US.

The Chief Justice also directed authorities to put theAmerican''s name on the Exit Control List, which contains thenames of people barred from travelling out of Pakistan.

"We restrain the government from handing over RaymondDavis to the US as the court has to decide the case," Chaudryobserved.

The government should inform the High Court whetherDavis enjoys diplomatic immunity, he said.

Deputy Attorney General Navid Malik, who representedthe federal government at the hearing, said the USadministration had not yet told Pakistan about the diplomaticstatus of Davis.

He sought time from the court so that the governmentcould establish Davis'' diplomatic status.

Following this, the High Court adjourned proceedingsfor two weeks.

Davis was arrested after he shot and killed two youthswhom he alleged were trying to rob him in a busy commercialarea of Lahore on Thursday.

A third Pakistani died when he was hit by a USconsulate car that was rushing to the aid of the American.

The American, currently in police custody, contendedduring a court appearance last week that he had acted inself-defence.

Pakistani authorities have rejected a demand by the USfor the release of the American.

The US has argued that the American is a member of thetechnical and administrative staff of the US Embassy inIslamabad and enjoyed diplomatic immunity.

Police in Lahore have registered a case against theAmerican for illegally carrying a weapon.

The US national was armed with a Glock 9mm pistol.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif told reportersyesterday that the federal government and the Foreign Officewould decide whether the American was entitled to diplomaticimmunity.

President Asif Ali Zardari yesterday said that theAmerican''s case would be decided by the court.

Though police officials have confirmed that the twoyouths shot by the American were armed and were involved in arobbery, religious group and political parties have stepped uppressure on the government not to release him.

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