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Courts Should Rule on Detained US Diplomat, Says Pakistan

Supporters of the religious and political party Jamaat-e-Islami hold a banner that reads 'Pakistani Demand to Hang Raymond Davis Immediately' while praying during a protest rally in Karachi, January 30, 2011.

Pakistan's president says Pakistani courts should rule on the case of a U.S. diplomat, detained in connection with a shooting incident last week.

President Asif Ali Zardari said Monday it would be "prudent" to wait for the legal course in Pakistan to be completed before releasing the diplomat to U.S. authorities.

The French news agency reports Mr. Zardari made his comments after meeting with six members of the U.S. Congress who are visiting Pakistan.

The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad has asked Pakistan to release the diplomat identified as Raymond Davis, saying he has diplomatic immunity and was detained illegally in the eastern city of Lahore, where the shooting took place.

Embassy spokeswoman Courtney Beale said Davis acted in self-defense after he fled an alleged robbery attempt by two men. Pakistani authorities said Davis fired his gun at the two men who later died. A third Pakistani was killed when he was struck by a consulate vehicle that had rushed to the scene of the shooting.

Davis faces double-murder charges in the two deaths. Last Friday a judge ordered him held in custody for six days while police investigate the case.

Pakistani authorities said Davis told police he withdrew money from a cash machine and was stopped at a traffic signal when two men on a motorcycle fired shots at his vehicle. The authorities said Davis returned fire and alerted a separate U.S. security team. Both alleged attackers died in a hospital.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.