US official formally charged with murder

Written by: Pti
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M Zulqernain

Lahore/Washington, Feb 15 (PTI) The tussle between theUS and Pakistan over the fate of jailed diplomat intensifiedas Raymond Davis was formally charged with murder in thechargesheet submitted to the trial court here and Washingtonsaid it would place before the jury a statement that theofficial had diplomatic immunity.

Rejecting Davis'' claim that he shot two men in self-defence, the prosecution filed a challan or chargesheet in thecourt of a district and sessions judge, formally charging himof murder.

Officials told the media that the chargesheet wasbased on forensic reports, the statement of Davis and theinvestigation conducted by police.

They said the charges were based on witnesses who hadstated that the American pursued the two men and fired atthem. The next hearing in Davis'' case is scheduled forFebruary 25.

The new turn in the case comes as a top official hassaid that US will submit a petition on Thursday to the Lahorecourt, certifying that Davis has diplomatic immunity and heshould be released.

"On Thursday, we will present a petition to the courtto certify that he has diplomatic immunity and that he shouldbe released," P J Crowley, State Department spokesman, toldreporters.

Earlier, Lahore police chief Aslam Tareen had told themedia on February 11 that investigators had found no evidenceto support Davis'' contention that he had acted inself-defence.

He described the killing of the two men by Davis as anact of "intentional and cold-blooded murder".

Davis was arrested on January 27 after he shot andkilled the two armed men in a busy area of Lahore.

He claimed he had opened fire as the two men wereallegedly trying to rob him.

Subsequent reports have suggested that the two menwere operatives of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency whowere assigned to tail Davis.

The episode has taken US-Pakistan ties to a new lowafter Pakistani leaders rejected repeated American demands forDavis to be freed.

The Pakistan government has insisted that Davis'' casewill be decided in court according to the country''s law.

The American official is currently being held inLahore''s Kot Lakhpat Jail where his security has been steppedup because of fears that he might be bumped off.

A senior Pakistani police official yesterday reviewedsecurity arrangements in and around the jail.

Officials said Davis is being kept in ahigh-security barrack guarded by an armed contingent ofwardens and law enforcing personnel.

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