South Asia

Pakistan anger over release of CIA killer Raymond Davis

Jamaat-i-Islami supporters shout slogans as they march toward the US embassy
Image caption The Jamaat-i-Islami party has been at the forefront of the protests

Lawyers and some political parties in Pakistan have demonstrated against the release of CIA contractor Raymond Davis after he was acquitted of murder.

Small protests were held in Karachi and Lahore, following anger on the streets there and in Islamabad a day earlier.

Protesters say the families of the dead men were coerced into accepting more than $2m in so-called "blood money" in return for pardoning Mr Davis.

His arrest had threatened to derail US relations with Pakistan, a key ally.

Meanwhile a senior Pakistani official has told the BBC that the "blood money" was paid to the families in Saudi Arabia, as part of a deal brokered by the Saudi government.

The whereabouts of Mr Davis are unclear. Some reports say he is now in Afghanistan although there is no independent confirmation.

Muted response

Members of the Jamaat-e-Islami and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf parties held further small-scale protests in Karachi and Lahore against the release of the American on Thursday.

Image caption Mr Davis's wife Rebecca said that she always knew he would be set free

However the BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad says that it is significant that the country's largest Islamic party - the JUIF - has so far been cautious in its response to the release of Mr Davis.

Our correspondent said their relatively muted response may be because Mr Davis was released under Sharia law.

A JUIF spokesman said they were looking into the case to see if the Punjab government had coerced the families into accepting the deal.

Faizan Haider, a lawyer representing the family of one of those killed, told the BBC on Wednesday that the "blood money" deal was done without his knowledge and that he was in detention when it was made.

Critics of the deal point out that as recently as four days ago, the relatives said that they wanted justice not compensation.

The deal to release Mr Davis - made by the court sitting in his Lahore jail - ends a long-simmering diplomatic stand-off between Pakistan and the United States which had severely strained relations. It will come as a relief to both governments.

Public anger intensified in the case earlier this year after unnamed US officials said that Mr Davis had been secretly working for the CIA at the time of the killing.

'Saudi money'

Meanwhile, more details have emerged of the financial compensation paid to the families of the dead men.

Siddiqul Farooq - a spokesman for the PML-N party that leads the coalition in Punjab province - said relatives performed a pilgrimage to Mecca earlier this month and collected the money before returning to Pakistan.

The whereabouts of the families is still not known after the Pakistani media reported on Wednesday that they received 200 million rupees ($2.34m, £1.1m).

The decision to release Mr Davis was made during a hearing at a prison in Lahore.

Mr Davis, 36, said that he shot dead two men in self-defence in January following what he said was an attempted armed robbery.

The relatives confirmed to the judge overseeing the case that they had received "blood money" in return for pardoning him.

Under Pakistani Sharia law, relatives of a murder victim can pardon the killer.

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