US to 'certify' before Pak court that murder-accused official has diplomatic immunity

Washington, Feb 15(ANI): The United States has announced that it will present a petition in the Pakistani court hearing the case of double-murder accused US diplomat Raymond Davis to certify that he enjoys diplomatic immunity, and that he must be released on this basis.

"This Thursday, February 17, the higher court in Lahore will examine several petitions and the issue of diplomatic immunity. Unfortunately, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations clearly states that this not a matter for local courts to decide. And we continue to insist that Pakistan certify his diplomatic immunity and release him," US Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Philip J. Crowley said during a press briefing.

"On Thursday we will present a petition to the court to certify that he [Davis] has diplomatic immunity and that he should be released," he stated.

Crowley said that the US official had identified himself right away as a diplomat clearly from the outset. "He [Davis] made clear to the police officers, who responded to the scene, that he had diplomatic immunity. And unfortunately, he was taken into custody," he added.

While Davis confessed to shooting dead two men, allegedly in self-defence, a third Pakistani man was struck and killed by a vehicle that was reportedly racing to Davis' aid.

When asked who was driving the vehicle that allegedly hit the civilian, Crowley confirmed that it "was US Embassy staff driving the car."

When asked if releasing Davis would not only cause a huge public outcry in Pakistan but also "do just as much to damage US-Pakistan relationships as they already are," Crowley replied: "Well, as we've said, we're building a strategic partnership with Pakistan. We're going to build this relationship for the long term. We respect our international obligations, and we expect other countries, including Pakistan, to do the same."

To a follow-up question that the US had already gone out of its way to try to rebuild relationships with the Pakistani people, and this single incident might destroy all the efforts gone into giving America a better image in Pakistan, Crowley said: "Well, we have done that. We will continue to do that. We continue to make clear that we're supporting Pakistan because it's in our mutual interest to do so. We are committed to Pakistan for the long term, but we do expect that international obligations will be respected."

When asked if it was safe to assume that the trilateral meeting among the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan would not take place before the Davis issue got resolved, Crowley replied: "I actually wouldn't say that."

"Just to go back over the announcement that we made on Saturday, as we said, first and foremost, there's a practical issue here. Since the Pakistani Government is reforming its government and a number of the ministers have not yet been appointed who would be relevant to the trilateral, we thought it was prudent to postpone it," he added. (ANI)

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