US to conduct criminal investigation into Davis'' case: Kerry

M Zulqernain

Lahore, Feb 15 (PTI) The US administration todaysought to address public anger in Pakistan over an Americanofficial, who shot and killed two men, by saying that theDepartment of Justice will conduct a criminal investigationinto the incident despite his diplomatic immunity.

The offer of the investigation was conveyed by SenateForeign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, who wasdespatched to Pakistan by the Obama administration to calmtensions triggered by the arrest of US official Raymond Davis.

"Our Department of Justice will conduct its ownthorough criminal investigation regardless of the immunity. Westill believe the immunity applies but that doesn''t mean wedon''t have the right under our law or the capacity to gothrough our own process," Kerry told a news conference shortlyafter he flew into Lahore.

He said it is customary for the US government toconduct a criminal investigation into incidents like theLahore shooting.

"That''s our law. I can give you the full assurance ofour government today that that will take place," he added.

Kerry repeatedly expressed sorrow and regret on behalfof the US government and people for the incident in whichDavis shot and killed two men.

Davis was arrested soon after the shooting in Lahoreon January 27 and police have rejected his claim that he actedin self-defence as the two men were allegedly trying to robhim.

The incident took Pakistan-US relations to a new lowover after senior Pakistani leaders rebuffed repeated Americandemands for Davis to be freed on the ground that he hasdiplomatic immunity.

Kerry stressed that the American demand for Davis''release was based not on "arrogance or special treatment" buton international law, including the Vienna Conventions thathave been signed by both Pakistan and the US.

"Our Department of Justice will conduct a criminalinvestigation. That doesn''t mean the law of immunity issomething we don�t have to respect," he said.

"It is the strong belief of our government that thiscase does not belong in the court and it does not belong inthe court because this man has diplomatic immunity as anadministrative and technical employee of the Embassy of the USin Islamabad," he added. .

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