ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Conflicting reports appeared in some Pakistani media on whether the government had accepted diplomatic immunity for an American held in the deaths of two men.
The News International, quoting sources, reported Monday there were strong indications the federal government has decided to accept diplomatic immunity for a U.S. consular employee in Lahore accused last week of fatally shooting two men in the city. The worker said he had acted in self-defense as they'd tried to rob him.
The source told the newspaper Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, one of his federal ministers and top U.S. Embassy officials were urging Shahbaz Sharif, chief minister of Punjab province, to free the American. Lahore is the capital of the province, which is led by Sharif's opposition party.
Sharif was quoted as saying his government could not act as the case was now in court.
The News also quoted Farhatullah Babar, a spokesman for Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, as telling reporters no pressure would be accepted.
Separately, Dawn newspaper quoted Babar as saying the government had not yet decided to hand over the man to U.S. authorities, adding the law would take its course.
Dawn said while the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad says the accused enjoyed diplomatic immunity, the man's passport did not include a diplomatic visa.
Although the man has been named in some news reports as Raymond Davis, a U.S. State Department spokesman has said that name is incorrect while declining to identify him.
The Los Angeles Times reported the case has set off more anti-American feelings at a time when Pakistan's cooperation is needed in the escalating war against terrorism.
The two men who died in the shooting allegedly had criminal backgrounds, including holding a Pakistani citizen at gunpoint prior to confronting the U.S. national.
A third Pakistani also died in the incident, reportedly after being struck by a U.S. consulate vehicle rushing to help the accused American.