A CIA contractor was acquitted of two murder charges and released by a Pakistani court on Wednesday after a deal to pay “blood money” to the victims’ families, Pakistani and US officials said.
The deal, reached just hours after the US contractor had been indicted, ends a long-simmering diplomatic standoff between Pakistan and the US.
“The court first indicted him, but the families later told court that they had accepted the ‘blood money’ and they had pardoned him,” Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said.
“The court acquitted him in the murder case.”
Raymond Davis, 36, shot dead two Pakistanis in the eastern Punjab city of Lahore on Jan. 27 after what he described as an attempted armed robbery.
The US had repeatedly called for his release, saying he had diplomatic immunity.
“The families of the victims of the Jan. 27 incident in Lahore have pardoned Raymond Davis. I am grateful for their generosity,” US Ambassador Cameron Munter said. “I wish to express, once again, my regret for the incident.”
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, speaking while on a trip to Cairo, said the US government did not pay any compensation to the families of the two Pakistanis.
Asked if the Pakistani -government had paid compensation, Clinton said: “You will have to ask the Pakistani government.”
A US official speaking on condition of anonymity said Davis was quickly flown out of Pakistan. Despite the reported payment of the “blood money,” he insisted there had been “no quid pro quo.”
A US national security official closely monitoring the Davis case and who declined to be identified said that if the Pakistani government paid the compensation it will likely seek reimbursement from the US government.
The case became a major test of relations with Pakistan, a vital ally in the US-led campaign against Taliban militants in Afghanistan.
It is also likely to have a lasting impact on how the US Congress, already suspicious of Pakistan’s commitment to defeating some militants groups in Afghanistan, views a government that is a major recipient of US military and civilian aid.
Republican lawmaker Dana Rohrabacher, a member of the party that controls the US House of Representatives, said the Davis case “should suggest we take a close look at the fundamentals of who we give our aid to and whether or not they are our friends, or whether they are treating us like suckers.”
However, CIA spokesman George Little said the resolution of the case showed that ties between the US and Pakistan are strong.
“That’s the sign of a healthy partnership — one that’s vital to both countries, especially as we face a common set of terrorist enemies,” he said.
The Pakistani -government runs the risk of a backlash.
Talat Masood, a retired general, said some groups in Pakistan could use the case to their advantage.
“Some elements will take advantage of it [such as] opposition parties, even if it’s only for rhetoric to gain points. With the religious parties and militant groups, they might use it to expand their reach.”
The country’s powerful religious parties had tried to block the deal, calling for Davis to be hanged and the families’ lawyer suggested they had been forced to sign the papers.
“We were put in detention for four hours and not allowed to meet our clients who were called by authorities to the court,” Asad Manzoor Butt, a lawyer for the family of one of the slain men said.
Religious parties condemned the release.
“We will protest against this. This is shameful and unfortunate,” a senior leader of the hardline Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami Amir-ul-Azeem said.
There had been speculation that a deal was in the works between the US and the families of the dead men, including a third killed when a US consulate vehicle struck him while trying to extract Davis from the scene.
Such payments are sanctioned by Islamic law and are common in some parts of rural Pakistan as a way to settle disputes.
The identity of the victims had been questioned from the outset, with some media reports saying the men worked for Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency. Others have suggested they attempted to rob Davis.
The case also strained ties between the CIA and ISI, which said it was unaware Davis was working in Pakistan.
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
‘ASKED TO MOVE OUT’: Indonesian coast guard personnel argued with a Chinese vessel over territorial claims after it entered the country’s exclusive economic zone An Indonesian patrol ship confronted a Chinese coast guard vessel that spent almost three days in waters where Indonesia claims economic rights and that are near the southernmost part of China’s disputed claims to the South China Sea. The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency on Friday night detected Chinese ship 5204 entering Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in what Indonesia calls the North Natuna Sea. The agency sent a patrol ship that closed within 1km of the Chinese coast guard vessel and they communicated to affirm their position and their nation’s claims to the area, Indonesian Maritime Security Agency head Aan Kurnia said. “We
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”