ISLAMABAD: An Additional Sessions judge Wednesday set free CIA contractor Raymond Davis, who killed two Pakistanis on a busy road in Lahore, after payment of blood money (Diyat) in accordance with Sharia law of Pakistan, sources said.
Talking to TV channels, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said the court released Raymond Davis after the family members of the murdered men appeared in the court and pardoned the US National after an agreement was reached between the two sides. “He has been released from jail and now it is up to him to leave the country whenever he wants,” the Minister added.
The killings by Raymond Davis in Lahore in January strained relations between Pakistan and US, who repeatedly insisted Davis was an embassy employee and enjoyed diplomatic immunity, particularly after it emerged he was working for the CIA.
A spokesman for the US embassy in Islamabad said he could not immediately confirm the report. Lawyers for the families of the two men shot dead in a busy Lahore street on January 27 said they had been held for four hours at the jail court where Davis was being tried on Wednesday, but had not been allowed to witness proceedings.
Blood money, or ‘Diyat’ is a provision under Islamic sharia law in which compensation can be paid to relatives of those killed to secure a pardon, and is commonly used to resolve such cases in Pakistan.
The Davis case had sparked protests in Pakistan, with religious groups angrily denouncing the American who claimed he acted in self-defence to fend off an armed robbery when he shot dead the two men.
US authorities insisted Davis was protected by full diplomatic immunity, but the Pakistan government refused to back that claim and a decision on his status was on Monday deferred by the Lahore high court for criminal judges to decide.
Revelations that Davis was a CIA contractor heaped pressure on Pakistan’s embattled government and further ramped up burning public mistrust of Washington, damaging fragile relations between the two wary allies.
A third Pakistani was struck down and killed by a US diplomatic vehicle that came to Davis’ assistance in the January incident. US officials denied Pakistan access to the vehicle, and the occupants are widely believed to have left the country.
Police have said they recovered a Glock pistol, four loaded magazines, a GPS navigation system and a small telescope from Davis’ car after the January 27 shooting. The United States postponed a round of high-level talks with Afghanistan and Pakistan following failed attempts to free Davis, and US lawmakers threatened to cut payments to Pakistan unless he is released. (GEO NEWS)