LAHORE: In a day full of fast paced developments and a dramatic climax, an additional district and sessions judge (ASJ) acquitted CIA contractor Raymond Davis in a double murder case and ordered his immediate release after the legal heirs of the two victims accepted blood money of Rs200 million under the Qisas and Diyat law and pardoned the killer. The court also showed exceptional haste in giving a soft verdict on the illegal weapons case and paving the way for Davis’ immediate release and handover to the US authorities. According to reports, the freed CIA contractor was whisked away to Kabul within hours in a special US government aircraft, which had been parked at the Lahore Airport since Tuesday evening.
In another mystifying twist, a report in the US media has claimed within hours that the blood money of about US$2.3m was actually paid out by the Pakistan government on the understanding that the US would ‘reimburse the amount later at an opportune moment’. The report gained credence from the statements made by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the State Department spokesperson with both emphasizing that “The US had not paid any Diyat”. The questions remains, if the US didn’t pay up the Diyat as proven before the court, then who did?
The 10 legal heirs of Faizan Haider and eight of Faheem, both killed by Davis at Qartaba Chowk on January 27, appeared before the ASJ (in the jail) along with their counsel. They recorded their statements and pardoned Raymond, 36, and accepted the Diyat amount. The court called them one by one for recording their statements and to ensure whether they were doing so under coercion or of free will. Sources disclosed that Rs100 million had been given to each family and receipts were also produced in the court. Both the families stated before the court they had no objection to the release of Raymond Davis.
At the outset of the proceedings, the court announced to frame charges against Davis in double murder case, however, his counsel Zahid Hussain Bokhari objected to it and sought further time. The court turned down his plea and indicted Raymond in the case.
As the proceedings of framing charges were under way, legal heirs of the victims along with their counsel appeared before the court. They filed application along with their affidavits under section 345 of CrPC with regard to acceptance of the blood-money and stated before the court that they will not object to acquittal and release of the accused.
US Consul General in Lahore Carmela Conroy and American Justice Department official Paul were also present during the court proceedings. In the case of keeping illegal weapon, a magistrate Aneeq Anwar, who was also present during the trial, held brief proceedings and awarded 48-day jail sentence to Davis. He gave him benefit of section 382 CrPC. The court also imposed a fine of Rs20,000 on the convict which he submitted in the court without any delay.
Interestingly, the court did not hear arguments of lawyers from any side and quickly framed charges against him and passed the order. After the judge concluded proceedings of the jail trial, the representatives of US embassy and consulate, and members of victims’ family along with their new counsels left the Kot Lakhpat Jail in a convoy of around six vehicles with black tainted windows.
Previously, the complainants of FIRs against Raymond and other relatives of the victims used to talk to the media after jail proceedings, but this time they quickly drove away and totally avoided all media contact. Sources in jail administration said the acquitted Raymond also left in the same convoy.
Lytton Road police had registered a case on Jan 27, 2011 against Raymond Davis on charges of killing two Pakistani citizens riding bikes at Qartaba Chowk, one of the busiest places in provincial capital.
The accused had taken a plea that he killed the bike riders in ‘self-defence’ as they had tried to rob him. Two traffic wardens had chased and arrested Raymond.
AFP adds: Raja Irshad said a total of 200 million Pakistani rupees (2.35 million dollars) was paid as compensation. That was confirmed by public prosecutor Abdul Samad.Police investigator Muneer Ahmed told AFP the deal had been done by “mutual agreement” and the court had received signed family statements before ordering Davis’ release.
Reuters adds from Washington: CIA contractor Raymond Davis was flown out of Pakistan after being acquitted of two murder charges and released by a Pakistani court, a US official said.
“Davis was released from Pakistani custody and is out of the country. There was no quid pro quo,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.