January 29, 2011 / 3:53 PM / 8 years ago

Pakistan says law must take its course in U.S. diplomat case

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan on Saturday said its legal process should be respected after the U.S. embassy called for the immediate release of an American diplomat who was arrested after he killed two Pakistanis this week.

The American, identified by Pakistani police as Raymond Davis, told a court on Friday he had acted in self-defense after fleeing what he said was a robbery attempt in the eastern city of Lahore on Thursday.

Davis has been remanded in police custody for six days for questioning.

“This matter is sub judice in a court of law and the legal process should be respected,” a Pakistani foreign office spokesman said in a statement.

The U.S. embassy said in a statement on Friday only that a staff member of the U.S. Consulate General in Lahore was involved in an incident involving “loss of life.”

In a statement on Saturday, the embassy identified him as a U.S. diplomat who it said had been unlawfully detained by authorities in Lahore, where the shooting took place.

It said the diplomat acted in self-defense when confronted by two armed men and had every reason to believe they meant to harm him, and said arresting the diplomat was a violation of international norms and the Vienna Convention.

In his initial statement, Davis told police that he was chased by the two men soon after he withdrew money from a cash machine. The men approached him when he pulled over at a traffic signal and they pointed a gun at him.

Davis then fired at the men, a police official said. Armed robberies and carjackings are becoming more common in Pakistan, but Westerners are rarely targeted.

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 U.S.-allied government is also growing due to its perceived ineptitude.

Reporting by Augustine Anthony, Editing by Michael Georgy and Sonya Hepinstall

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