Pakistani police report deems American official 'guilty' in shootings

Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, February 13, 2011; 11:00 PM

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - A Pakistani police report says a U.S. Embassy official jailed in the killing of two Pakistani men is "guilty" of murder, citing investigators' findings that the official shot each victim five times, including in their backs, and lied to police about how he arrived at the scene.

The five-page report, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, spells out law enforcement authorities' case against the official, Raymond Davis, whom the police chief in the city of Lahore two days ago accused of "cold-blooded murder." The former Army Special Forces soldier has said that he fired in self-defense as the men tried to rob him.

The report says that although the men were armed, no witnesses saw them point weapons at Davis. The top U.S. official in Lahore, Carmela Conroy, disputed that Friday, saying police did not consider what she deemed witness accounts of the stickup, which were aired on Pakistani television in the days after the shooting.

Two weeks after the incident, the report serves as an official record of how deeply Pakistani officials are digging in their heels over the case, which has frayed the uneasy U.S.-Pakistan alliance. U.S. officials have repeatedly said that Davis qualifies for diplomatic immunity and have demanded his release; Pakistan has said that the matter is up to its courts.

Statements issued in both countries over the weekend underscored the escalating diplomatic row. On Saturday, the State Department announced the postponement of a Feb. 23-24 meeting in Washington involving U.S., Pakistani and Afghan officials. The statement cited "political change" in Pakistan - where a new cabinet is being formed - but White House officials have said that the Davis dispute prompted the change.

In Pakistan on Saturday, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who was foreign minister until a cabinet reshuffle last week, broke his silence on the incident, asserting at a banquet and to a newspaper that he had lost his job because he did not think Davis was qualified for diplomatic immunity.

According to one Pakistani newspaper account, Qureshi told the dinner attendees that "when the national interests will demand, relationships can be severed."

Speaking privately, some Pakistani officials say Davis - who the United States says was a security officer and a member of the embassy's "administrative and technical" staff - clearly qualifies for immunity. But the fragile Pakistani government, viewed here as a U.S. lackey, has been loath to face what could be a destabilizing public backlash to Davis's release.

Meanwhile, these officials say, a growing camp that includes the opposition-run government and police in Punjab province, where the shooting occurred, is playing to public outrage over the issue in hopes of gaining leverage over the United States.

U.S. officials in Pakistan have maintained that the two men, who were on a motorcycle, had criminal backgrounds and held up Davis while he was in his car at an intersection in Lahore. After the shootings, the men were found in possession of cash and a cellphone they had stolen that day, the U.S. officials say. U.S. and Pakistani officials told The Post last week that a police report corroborated that account.

But the police's five-page investigative report, which was written in Urdu and submitted to a municipal court in Lahore, does not reflect that. It was unclear Sunday whether this report was the same one as that referenced by officials.

The report, citing witness statements, says Davis first shot at the men from inside his sedan, then got out and shot twice more at one of the men, Faizan Haider, as he ran. Davis then took photos and called the U.S. Consulate before fleeing in his car and being apprehended by two traffic wardens, it says. A consular vehicle that came to Davis's rescue fatally struck an uninvolved motorcyclist on the way to the scene, police say.

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