Curious case of Raymond Davis – by Sindhyar Talpur

Related articles: In Pakistan, everybody hates Raymond? – by Brandon Wallace

Lahore shooting by a US national and “the legal issues to settle”: Some questions for Ejaz Haider

Almost everyone following news in Pakistan would be aware of the facts of the case involving Raymond Davis, though much of it are to be bone of contention in court, and decision precisely is to be made on them. Many people are clearly content on certain set of facts and unwilling to accept any other version, apart from their preferred one. In a case like this one would have hoped that there shouldn’t be so much public discussion, based purely on conjectures, on a man’s actions for fear that this may in any way influence the outcome of the case. However such trivial objections, such as fair trial of the accused, are easily trumped by the satiating the sensationalism demand of the Tv viewers. Since we can make good Tv shows or reality shows anymore, lets make reality into a tv show and add our own plots and twists. Makes up for the lack of good drama.

So we have RD, who “claims” to have been victim of a robbery. The two alleged robbers had guns, but so did he. Fearing for his life, he fired on them and they both were fatally wounded. At that time an embassy vehicle rushed to help Davis, but in process crushed a passer-by.

There are circumstantial questions that emerge from this narrative. Defence argues self-defence, which firstly confirms that RD admits to killing the two men. A person can successfully claim self-defence if they can show that accused was  facing an actual and immediate danger to his person. There are two important factors. It is a subjective test, i.e. what the person in that position thought was an actual and immediate danger, and that his actions were reasonable in the situation. All these terms have specific meaning, and court has to perform a delicate balancing act of trying to gauge whether narrative of defence is true and that if so, if that constitutes a successful plea for self-defence. Prosecution would argue that Davis acted irrationally. He wasn’t in an immediate danger, he was trigger happy and the persons involved were not at all threatening. Again the court has to judge that narrative and see if this has validation. To argue that two men involved in shooting were totally innocent would no doubt weaken prosecution’s case, because as more facts come to light, it becomes more evident that two men were anything but two model citizens. However regardless, RD can only claim self-defence, if he really felt he was in danger.

Whether RD is found guilty or not is something for court to decide. Court would decide this based on evidence provided to it by both sides and based on the weight of each given evidence. To say now two men were carrying blanks, were shot at back by red eyed American, based on a unnamed source and making this news is highly irresponsible. This just carries to strengthen one narrative, which responsible journalist mustn’t do. Consider that these are all false ‘information’ passed by an eager ‘source’. Consider this is never corrected, as is the case on the ‘information’ based on such ‘source’. RD goes free, based on a very fair case, however reader never knows of that. They only recall two men carrying empty guns killed from the back like cattle by a cow boy. This may be a good way to sow seeds of misinformation, but not disseminate information as journalist are duty bound to do. This no less dereliction of duty, then of police unable to apprehend criminals.

Other issue with RD case is administrative. Whether he actually has a diplomatic status or not. This makes a big difference, as diplomats under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations  are given immunity. This immunity is given because of the precarious position a diplomat can find him/herself, if two nations become enemies or if there is a cold war or anything similar. It prevents the diplomats from becoming scapegoats. This may be the rationale behind such immunity. It is observed almost all over the world and, though is controversial because it implies some people are above law, it is seen to be justifiable.

If anyone is arguing Pakistan shouldn’t follow the convention any more, then they must realise that the political repercussions of such a move. Pakistan’s main argument would be, no one is above the law. And at that time, the world would show us the mirror, with the glaring inequality.

For the people in media who would point towards all the elites able to get away with murder, they mustn’t forget their own organisations’ tax evasions, not to mention the copyright violations that they do on daily basis. Law is law, regardless of its classification is civil or criminal.

If the argument is that RD isn’t a diplomat, that is a valid argument, but again something for prosecution to show he isn’t. Defence would show he is one. This only prevents RD from persecution in Pakistan, he is still liable for same in US. If people are so much worried about justice being done in this instance, then they shouldn’t proscribe punishment to someone even without a case. They must argue for a trial, regardless its position. This makes for a much more sane argument, and something that no one can brush off as being propaganda or over-zealousness. What of the person who killed the passer by? who is not in police custody. Surely for completion, that person must be identified and he/she too must stand trial, even if they are charged with manslaughter, and that they too claim defence of others, as their defence. The onus would then be on US of A to ensure their record as a country which prides on liberty and justice is not blemished by such an isolated incident.

Finally, I can’t make out anything of the Aafia for Davis campaign. This argues that we shall let RD go if US frees Aafia. Last I checked, neither is a political prisoner nor caught up as spies or merely on wrong side or border but both are charged for criminal misdemeanour. How does this prisoner exchange make sense?

If both are  guilty, then surely equity demands both carry out their sentences as they deserve. If one of them is innocent, and other isn’t then surely the guilty party must pass their sentence while innocent must be let free by court. If both are innocent then both must be let free, without any spot on their criminal record. To ask of any exchange is to belittle the whole legal process. The fact that many of these people couldn’t stop praising rule of law, and wanted free and fair courts few years back, brings their current stance and personal belief in to question. What do they really believe? rule of law or rule of barter and might being right.



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