The strange case of Raymond Davis : Updated

Rather than presenting my own opinions on this case which has gone viral and seems to be leading people on both side i.e., liberal (describing themselves as cool headed rationalists) and conservatives (described by the liberals as our media and the rest of the population that subscribes to it) into frenzy, I will present excerpts from various news items and blogs from all over the liberal-conservative spectrum and let you reach your own conclusion.

I will start with Cafe Pyala which discusses the diplomatic status of Raymond Davis’s visa as

Television analysts have almost unanimously claimed that “Davis” did not have a ‘diplomatic visa’. It might behoove someone to ask our media pundits if they have ever actually seen a Pakistani diplomatic visa. From our own investigations, it seems Pakistani visas have no such specified category of ‘Diplomatic Visa’ (unlike some other countries). In fact, according our sources, all foreign diplomats receive Pakistani visas with the marking “Purpose of Visit:” “Official” or “Official Business” (not Official / Business, another category that does not exist) on their diplomatic passports.

The above statement of the author is contradicted by one of the commentators in the same post

I think better research was required before writing this post. Pakistan visa forms issued by consulate here in NYC do have ‘diplomatic’ category.Link

The link above takes you to Pakistani consulate website in New York which shows that there is a diplomatic category of visas. However, being a Pakistani form, I should add a caveat that there is a possibility that Pakistan might have stopped issuing Diplomatic visas but the forms may not have not been updated.

Two news items have appeared in Daily Times today, the paper owned by late Salman Taseer and presently run by his widow Amna Taseer, which is known to have a liberal bias which further fuel the frenzy

Police collect more evidence against Davis

“In case he was attacked with bullets, he had necessary arrangement and tools to save his life,” an [investigating] official said on the condition of anonymity. “Davis claimed that he was coming after withdrawing money form a bank and deceased Faizan and Faheem were chasing him with the intention to rob him. However, police recovered only Rs 5,000 and $150 from him following his arrest. Hence, he [Raymond] has failed to prove that he was coming after withdrawing money form a bank,” a police security officer said. According to sources, the police has no eyewitness who could support another claim of the accused that the deceased boys had pulled a pistol at him, he said. “When Davis fired at Faizan and Faheem, they were sitting on their bike in front of his car with their backs towards Davis, which meant that they were not in an attacking position and the claim of self-defence is false,” he added.

LHC moved against ‘flawed’ police investigation in Davis’ case

Counsel Asad Manzoor Butt submitted that the petitioner [brother of the victim] had many times visited the Lytton Road police station to have the statements recorded but the investigating officer refused to do so on the plea that they were restrained by their high-ups and could not record the statements without their permission.

Normally whether a person has diplomatic immunity or not is the purview of the government sending him and the host government’s foreign office. Whereas US has been claiming rightly or wrongly that the person is a diplomatic personnel, Pakistani Foreign Office is conspicuous by absence of any statement on the matter.

To fill the vacuum left by our dilly dallying foreign office, the courts have moved in as according to Geo News

Lahore High Court Chief Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry on Tuesday blocked any move to hand over to US authorities an American government employee under investigation for double murder, and put his name on the exit control list.

The United States on Monday again called for the release of Raymond Davis, who was arrested after killing two Pakistani motorcyclists in broad daylight in Lahore, saying that he acted in legitimate self-defence.

“I am restraining him (from being handed over to US authorities). Whether he has or does not have (diplomatic) immunity will be decided by the court,” ruled CJ Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry.

“An order is issued to put his name on the ECL (exit control list). The case is adjourned for 15 days.”

Pakistan is a signatory to Vienna convention which in certain cases does allow for a diplomat to get away with murder. However, there are certain nuances to it and there is a difference between diplomatic immunity and consular immunity which Ayesha has covered excellently in her blog on the subject:

After initial investigation by the Lahore police, Davis was remanded for six days in police custody. This development triggered the debate that whether Davis had the diplomatic immunity as expounded in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. It is a multilateral treaty that governs the principles of diplomatic relations between the independent countries. According to various news reports it is confirmed that Davis doesn’t fall in the category of a diplomat. Generally, diplomats and their families enjoy blanket immunity from the criminal and civil jurisdiction of the host country under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

Davis was said to be a member of the consular staff, if so, than there is a separate multilateral treaty called the Vienna Convention on the Consular Relations which deals with the consular relations between the countries. Unlike Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations the Convention on Consular Relations doesn’t provide complete immunity to consular. The consular immunity under the Convention is limited to the course of his duty only. Many claimed that at the time of shooting Davis wasn’t exercising any consular function. Several courts in the US have interpreted the scope of ‘consular function’ quite broadly as it is a very fact based term.

If this is not enough, here are a few more bizarre facts

1. From Geo News,

LAHORE: Deputy Prosecutor General (DPG) Rana Bakhtiar has tendered his resignation from his post after been dismissed from the Raymond Davis case, Geo News reported…

It is pertinent to mention here that Rana Bakhtiar was dismissed over his statement given to Geo News that Raymond Davis does not have diplomatic immunity.

Bakhtiar said that he gave the above statement in accordance with the law and record,

2. Another fact is the speech of US FO spokesman which was made immediately after the arrest. The spokesman was speaking in Washington and said that “Raymond Davis” is an alias and not the true identity of the arrested man. He repeate d the same a couple of days later when asked to confirm the identity of the arrested man. This raises the question as when did diplomatic personnel started using ‘aliases’.

3. Now our interior minister has also jumped into the fray. According to Dawn

Malik informed the House that the person arrested by the Punjab police is holding a diplomatic passport.

a statement which is in complete contradiction to the statement given by ex-deputy prosecutor general as quoted above.

 

In all of this, my only contention is, where is the Foreign Office or Foreign Minister, who actually matter in this case.

UPDATE:

A friend of mine sent me an excerpt from speech of Khomeini that he made in 1964 and since it incited a lot of people, he was exiled soon after.

Khomeini’s Speech Excerpts “The Granting of Capitaluatory Rights to the USA” – 27 October, 1964

I cannot express the sorrow I feel in my heart Iran no longer has any festival to celebrate; they have turned our festival into mourning…Theyhave sold us, they have sold our independence; but still they light up the city and dance The dignity of the Iranian Army has been trampledunderfoot! A law has been put before the Majlis according to which we are to accede to the Vienna Convention, and a provision has been added to it that all American military advisers, together with their families, technical, and administrative officials, and servants “ in short, anyone in any way connected to them ” are to enjoy legal immunity with respect to any crime they may commit in Iran. If some American’s servant, some American cook, assassinates your marja in the middle of the bazaar, or runs over him, the Iranian police do not have the right to apprehend him! Iranian courts do not have the right to judge him! The dossier must be sent to America, so that our master there can decide what is to be done They have reduced the Iranian people to a level lower than that of the American dog. If someone runs over a dog belonging to an American, he will be persecuted. But if an American cook runs over the Shah, the head of the state, no one will have the right to interfere with him. Why? Because they wanted a loan and Americans demanded this in return.

Source: Islam and Revolution: Writings and Declarations of Imam Khomeini, p 181-188.

Counterpunch also makes some good points in their 8th February piece on the same case. I writing a few excerpts but the piece is worth reading in full.

Davis (whose identity was first denied and later confirmed by the US Embassy in Islamabad), and the embassy have claimed that he was hired as an employee of a US security company called Hyperion Protective Consultants, LLC, which was said to be located at 5100 North Lane in Orlando, Florida. Business cards for Hyperion were found on Davis by arresting officers.

However CounterPunch has investigated and discovered the following information:

First, there is not and never has been any such company located at the 5100 North Lane address. It is only an empty storefront, with empty shelves along one wall and an empty counter on the opposite wall, with just a lone used Coke cup sitting on it. A leasing agency sign is on the window.  A receptionist at the IB Green & Associates rental agency located in Leesburg, Florida, said that her agency, which handles the property, part of a desolate-looking strip mall of mostly empty storefronts, has never leased to a Hyperion Protective Consultants. She added, “In fact, until recently, we had for several years occupied that address ourselves.”

The US claim that Davis has diplomatic immunity hinges first and foremost on whether he is actually a “functionary” of the consulate.  According to Lahore police investigators, he was arrested carrying a regular US passport, which had a business visa, not a diplomatic visa. The US reportedly only later supplied a diplomatic passport carrying a diplomatic visa that had been obtained not in the US before his departure, but in Islamabad, the country’s capital.

(Note: It is not unusual, though it is not publicly advertised, for the US State Department to issue duplicate passports to certain Americans.

DAWN yesterday published a great piece by a professor at University of Toronto which raises very pertinent questions and highlighted double standards of US:

For the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, a parking ticket violation is more atrocious than a murder. As a junior senator from New York, Mrs. Clinton wanted to revoke the diplomatic immunity for scofflaw diplomats who were stationed at the United Nations in New York and had racked up $21.3 million in parking violations. As the Secretary of State, however, she is invoking diplomatic immunity for Mr. Raymond Davis, who is accused of murdering two young men in Lahore.

I am not suggesting that parking violations could or should be ignored…..What I do not understand is how can one justify waiving diplomatic immunity for a misdemeanour, i.e., a parking violation, and insist on invoking it for violating the sixth commandment, thou shalt not kill, for a person whose diplomatic credentials are dubious at best, and whose culpability is beyond doubt.

Granting Mr. Davis diplomatic immunity will deny the judicial system in Pakistan the opportunity to determine the circumstances that lead to the two murders. The courts need to establish if Mr. Davis is indeed a diplomat, and not a contract worker or a mercenary employed by the US consulate in Lahore. The courts need to determine that if Mr. Davis were a diplomat, where was he stationed in the past or what school he attended to prepare for a career in foreign diplomacy. The courts need to ascertain if he indeed was acting in self-defence when he shot the two men riding away on a motorbike through the windshield of his car. The courts need to determine if he indeed was on diplomatic business at the time he shot the two men.

I have spoken with senior Pakistani diplomats in North America who have confirmed that Mr. Davis was issued an official business visa, which is reserved for contractors and lower-level staff serving in foreign missions in Pakistan. This does not make Mr. Davis eligible for diplomatic immunity in the first place.

The above piece needs to be read in full to appreciate the points good professor is making.

UPDATE 2:

From DAWN

Lahore police categorically rejected on Friday the American’s claim that he had killed two motorcyclists at Mozang on Jan 27 in ‘self-defence’.

The police chief said: “Forensic reports say no fingerprints were found on the triggers of the (motorcyclists’) pistols and the bullets remained in the magazine of their gun, and not in the chamber.” Davis gave no chance to the boys, he said.

“We have proof in the form of eyewitness accounts and forensic reports that it was not a case of self-defence. Rather it was a clear murder,” he said.

Mr Tareen said the investigation team had found a GPS tracker, mobile phones, wireless sets, a survival kit and photographs in Davis’s car.

“The investigation revealed that the motorcyclists did not point guns at Davis as the weapons recovered from them were not loaded.”

Witnesses told police that Davis had directly shot at them and kept shooting even when one of them was running for his life.

Mr Tareen termed it a cold-blooded act and accused Davis of intentionally killing the two men in a public place.

Hot off the press:

Raymond Davis is being kept in Kot Lakhpat jail under seven layers of security. The first layer is not provided with arms and ammunition _ so that they do not end up killing Raymond Davis themselves. The fifth layer comprises of elite army SSG commandos.