Davis remanded in police custody

LAHORE : City magistrate Zafar Iqbal sent US Consulate employee Raymond Davis to six days’ police remand. Davis had shot dead two persons, Faizan and Fahim. The police seek to know the whereabouts of the persons who came for Davis’ help and recover the vehicle used by them.

Davis contended before the court that he had taken action in self-defence. A pedestrian, Abaidur Rehman was crushed to death by a consulate car that came to the scene went to help Davis following the shooting at Chowk Qurtuba, Moazang, Lahore. According to post-mortem reports, Faheem and Faizan received four and three bullets, respectively. Abaidur Rehma died of head and heart injuries.AFP/Reuters adds: Raymond Davis, described by the US State Department as an American civilian working for the US consulate in Lahore, was being held at a police station on double murder charges over the deaths of two motorcyclists. “We produced the American in the court of magistrate Zafar Iqbal, who remanded him into police custody for six days,” senior police official Zulfiqar Hameed told AFP, adding that Davis would appear in court again on Thursday.

The incident sparked several small protests across the country on Friday, a sign of the anti-American sentiment that is already running high partly because of a covert US drone campaign in the north-west tribal areas that has provoked deadly revenge attacks by militants. Police said Davis described himself as a “technical adviser” with the consulate.

The American national told police he shot the two motorcycle riders from his vehicle in self-defence after they pulled a pistol on him in an attempted robbery, police officials said. Punjab province’s law minister Rana Sanaullah said the American seemed to have been on personal business at the time of the shooting.

“He said that he was returning from withdrawing cash from a bank and we are verifying this,” Sanaullah told a news conference in Lahore. Two handguns were found close to the victims’ bodies, officers said, but police chief Aslam Tarin said they so far appeared to have no previous criminal record. Imran Haider, the elder brother of one of the motorcyclists, 22-year-old Faizan Haider, said his brother only carried a pistol for protection, following the death of a third brother last month, and insisted the gun was licensed.

He said his brother was travelling home with his friend from a court hearing when the incident took place. “My brother was innocent, he was not a criminal. We need justice,” said the 34-year-old. At least six small anti-American demonstrations were held in cities across Pakistan on Friday, with about 400 people rallying in total, AFP reporters said.

In the capital Islamabad and Karachi, protesters set American flags on fire. In Islamabad protesters scuffled with police after they tried to march to the US embassy carrying placards inscribed with anti-US slogans and shouting: “Go America go,” and “Death for cruel America.” One banner called for Davis to be hanged.

Police officer Ahmed said another murder case had been registered against unknown foreigners in the second vehicle over the death of the third man. Sanaullah said the US consulate had agreed to release the second vehicle to police. More than 100 people had blocked the road after the incident, setting tyres on fire in protest. The US embassy in Islamabad has confirmed the man involved was a consular worker but said it was still trying to work out with the police what had happened.

There was confusion over whether the American was allowed to carry a weapon. Police in Lahore said they were seeking legal advice on the matter, while a senior lawyer in Islamabad, Ali Zafar, told AFP that special permission was required for a foreigner to be armed. A Western security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was extremely rare for Pakistani authorities to grant weapons permits to foreigners.

“It’s a very sensitive issue here so getting a permit is virtually impossible for a foreigner. It would be extremely surprising if the American in Lahore had a permit,” he told AFP. The United States said Thursday it wanted to avoid any anti-American backlash in Pakistan, a vital ally in the US-led “war on terror” and said it would cooperate with the investigation. Sanaullah said US pressure would not be allowed to influence the criminal case. Rana Bakhtiar, the prosecutor at the Lahore court, told Reuters that Davis had told the court he acted in self-defence and “wants to apologise”.

The killings are likely to fuel anger against the United States in the mainly Muslim nation where anti-American sentiment runs high and anger at the US-allied government is also growing due to its perceived ineptitude. Imtiaz Gul, a political analyst in Islamabad, said the government, led by the Pakistan People’s Party, would have to closely follow the law in this case, or risk further provoking the wrath of the people – Brecorder