Raymond Davis insists he has diplomatic immunity

Lahore: US national Raymond Davis, an alleged CIA contractor who was arrested for gunning down two men here, on Friday insisted he acted in self defence and had diplomatic immunity during a hearing into murder charges against him at a Pakistani court, which adjourned the trial till March 3.

Prosecution lawyer Abdus Samad told the media outside the heavily-guarded Kot Lakhpat Jail, where the trial is being conducted behind closed doors for security reasons, that 37-year-old Davis is expected to be formally indicted at the next hearing.

No counsel represented Davis during today`s proceedings and Additional District and Sessions Judge Yousuf Aujla advised him to select a lawyer to defend him before the next hearing, Samad said.

"All documents and the challan (charge sheet) were presented to Davis by the court. He (Davis) said he does not understand Urdu so he was given an English version of the documents," Samad said.

"After being given the documents, he refused to receive them," he said.

Sources said Davis informed the judge that he had shot and killed the two men in self defence and that he had diplomatic immunity.

The judge adjourned his trial till March 3 during today`s proceedings, which were observed by senior officials of the US consulate in Lahore and relatives of the two men gunned down by Davis.

The proceedings were held in Kot Lakhpat Jail after the judge accepted Punjab government`s request to hold the trial in the prison for security reasons.

Davis, who is currently being held in the same jail, could not be produced in the District and Sessions Court on an earlier occasion and the hearing was conducted through video-conferencing.

He was arrested in Lahore on January 27 after he shot and killed two armed men he claimed were trying to rob him.

Police rejected Davis` claim that he acted in self defence and booked him for murder.

The case has been complicated by revelations in the US media that Davis was working as a security contractor for the CIA.

The Pakistan government has rejected repeated US demands for Davis to be freed on the grounds of diplomatic immunity and relations between the two countries have plunged to a new low.