Pakistan police: U.S. shooter committed ‘clear murder’

February 11, 2011

By Karin Brulliard, The Washington Post

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – A Pakistani police official said Friday that investigators have determined an American diplomat did not act in self-defense but committed “a clear murder” when he fatally shot two Pakistanis last month, a conclusion likely to intensify a diplomatic standoff between the two countries.

Aslam Tareen, police chief in the eastern city of Lahore, said police would recommend murder charges for Raymond Davis, 36, who was ordered by a court earlier Friday to remain in detention for two more weeks. Davis has been jailed since the shooting on Jan. 27.

Davis told Pakistani authorities that he killed the two men as they tried to rob him at gunpoint at a busy Lahore intersection. U.S. officials have demanded his release on the grounds that he is an embassy staffer who qualifies for diplomatic immunity from prosecution. Pakistan, whose weak government is facing massive public pressure to try Davis, has said the issue is up to the courts.

“We regret that this incident resulted in loss of life. However, eyewitness reports on the day of the incident showed the American diplomat acted in self-defense,” said Courtney Beale, a U.S. Embassy spokeswoman. “There is no doubt he has diplomatic immunity, and we are working with the government of Pakistan to resolve the issue.”

In retaliation for Davis’s continued detention, Washington has suspended most high-level diplomatic contact with Pakistan and sent signals that the two countries’ strategic alliance, which includes billions of dollars in U.S. aid for Pakistan, is under threat.

On Friday, Tareen told reporters in Lahore that only one of the two men killed by Davis had pointed a pistol at him, but that investigators had determined the weapon was not loaded or cocked. Both men were shot in the back, one as he was trying to flee the scene, Tareen said.

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