Pakistan Rejects US Diplomat's Self-Defense Claim

Policemen escort an Armored Personal Carrier (APC) transporting U.S national Raymond Davis as he arrives to appear before a court in Lahore, Pakistan, February 11, 2011

Pakistani police have rejected a detained U.S. diplomat's claim that he acted in self-defense when he shot dead two men last month in the eastern city of Lahore. Police are recommending the diplomat face murder charges.

Lahore Police Chief Aslam Tareen said Friday an investigation revealed Raymond Davis committed what the chief called "cold-blooded murder."

"The eyewitnesses [statements] and forensic reports showed that it has not been the self-defense case. So has tried to fire on them [and] 10 bullets were fired. Therefore, his self-defense plea was considered and that has been rejected by the investigators," Tareen said.

Washington's stance

Speaking to VOA on the latest developments in the case, U.S Embassy spokesperson Courtney Beale reiterated Washington's stance on the issue.

"We regret that this incident resulted in the loss of life. However, eyewitness accounts report [on the day of the incident] that the American acted in self-defense," Beale said. "There is no doubt that he has diplomatic immunity and we are working with the government of Pakistan to resolve this issue."

The United States insists its diplomat killed the Pakistanis because they were trying to rob him at gunpoint. The American has been in police custody since the shooting incident took place on January 27.

Tension increases

Davis's detention has strained relations between Washington and Islamabad. Washington is demanding the American be freed immediately, saying his continued detention is illegal under international agreements covering diplomats.

Pakistani leaders maintain it is for the country's courts to determine the fate of the American. They have avoided clear statements on whether he is a diplomat.

On Friday, a Lahore court ruled that Davis will remain in custody for an additional 14 days for further questioning and ordered the government to determine whether he has diplomatic immunity or not.

Members of a U.S. congressional delegation said earlier this week they told Pakistani leaders on a recent visit that the detention of the diplomat could affect U.S assistance to Pakistan.

A U.S. embassy spokesperson, however, denied reports the Obama administration threatened to expel Pakistan's Washington envoy, Hussain Haqqani, scale down diplomatic missions in Pakistan and cancel an upcoming U.S visit by President Asif Ali Zardari, if the diplomat is not freed.