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'Pakistan adjourns Davis' hearing'

world Updated: Mar 08, 2011 15:59 IST
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A Pakistani court Tuesday adjourned a murder hearing of a CIA contractor whom the US government is battling to free on grounds of diplomatic immunity, after his lawyer requested more time.

The hearing in the murder case against Raymond Davis took place amid high security in Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore, where he is being held, and was adjourned until next Wednesday.

"March 16 is fixed for the framing of charges because we have given Davis' counsel all the documents they wanted," said public prosector Abdul Samad.

Davis has claimed he acted in self-defence when he shot dead two men in a busy Lahore street in January.

The issue of his claim to diplomatic immunity is pending before the Pakistani High Court, which is due to rule on the issue on March 14.

Asad Manzoor Butt, the lawyer representing the families of the two Pakistani men shot dead by Davis, said that the American had again refused to sign a charge sheet against him. It was given to his lawyer instead, said Butt.

"Davis and his lawyer kept insisting that he has immunity," Butt said.

"Davis is likely to be indicted during the next hearing," he added.

Tuesday's hearing was delayed for several hours before being briefly held amid tight security, with more than 100 armed police deployed in and outside the court and on the roof.

Media were kept from the court's main entrance, where explosive detectors were installed.

Washington has expressed fears for Davis' safety in custody, and have said they hold the Pakistani government responsible for his well-being.

Revelations that Davis was a CIA contractor have heaped pressure on Pakistan's fragile government and further ramped up burning public mistrust of Washington.

A third Pakistani was struck down and killed by a US diplomatic vehicle that came to Davis's 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 get Davis out, and US lawmakers threatened to cut payments to Pakistan unless he is freed.

Under international laws, embassy diplomats have full diplomatic immunity whereas consular officials are liable for detention in case of grave crimes.