LAHORE – In a shocking development, Additional District and Sessions Judge Muhammad Yousaf Aujla on Wednesday set free the double murder accused, American national Raymond Davis, following the grant of pardon to him by the legal heirs of both the slain in an unusual haste without involving the lawyer who was originally engaged to represent them in the trial.
Minutes after the release order by the court, Raymond Davis was reportedly given to the custody of the US authorities in Lahore and he was flown out of the Pakistani territory through an American aircraft already waiting for him at the airport. The news came as a sorrowful disappointment for the Pakistani nation at large, since the people felt being betrayed under a secret deal, though the Diyat option may well be cited as a genuine, legitimate option if some, in addition to the government, are willing to overlook the context.
As many as 18 legal heirs of Fahim and Faizan, who were murdered in cold blood by Raymond Davis at a busy road of Lahore on January 27, appeared before the trial court and individually stated that they had forgiven the killer under the Diyat (blood money) law of the Shariah. The legal heirs reportedly accepted a total Rs 200million in compensation to grant pardon and absolve Davis of the offence. They presented an application under 345 CrPC besides affirming their will through an affidavit.
Advocate Asad Manzoor Butt, who was supposed to represent the victim parties, was not allowed to appear before the court. Butt says he was kept in detention for four hours in a separate room by the jail authorities on the pretext that the court will call him in. After four hour when he was set free, the proceedings were over, he told The Nation expressing strong apprehensions that the legal heirs have been coerced into accepting Diyat as till last nothing in this regard was told to him by any member of the victim families. The trial court started proceedings at around 11:30am when Raymond Davis in his presence was formally indicted for the murders. The reports coming out of the in-camera proceedings of the trial at Kot Lakhpat Jail revealed that Raymond remained silent throughout the proceedings. Immediately after the accused was charge-sheeted, Advocate Raja Irshad, a new counsel for the victim families, told the court that his clients wanted to pardon the accused and presented an application on their behalf before the court. After that court individually asked the legal heirs of both families and they affirmed what they had told the court in the application.
For the prosecution, former judge Zahid Bokhari presented another written document to the court after the legal heirs had pardoned the killer. The court proceedings continued for about five hours. US Consul General Carmella Conroy and another official from the US Justice Department were also present in the courtroom.
In the case of keeping illegal arms case, the magistrate concerned awarded Davis a jail sentence from the date of his arrest to-date and a fine of Rs 20,000, which was instantly paid by the accused represented by his counsel.