Pakistani activists of the Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan party shout slogans during an anti-US protest, against alleged US consulate worker Raymond Davis, in Karachi. – AFP Photo

WASHINGTON: The United States on Monday again called for the release of an American 'diplomat' accused of killing two Pakistanis, saying that he acted in legitimate self-defense.

“He is a member of the embassy’s technical administrative staff and therefore entitled to full criminal immunity. He cannot be lawfully arrested or detained in accordance with the Vienna Convention,” said State Department spokesman Philip Crowley.

Crowley said Washington agreed with the US employee’s version of events: “In our view, he acted in self-defense, when confronted by two armed men on motorcycles.”

Raymond Davis “had every reason to believe that the armed men meant him bodily harm. And minutes earlier, the two men, who had criminal records, had robbed money and valuables at gunpoint from a Pakistani citizen in the same area,” said Crowley.

Earlier a Pakistani lawyer called for the American who shot dead two men last week to stand trial for murder despite US legal claims of diplomatic immunity.

Local lawyer Saeed Zafar filed the petition under public interest laws, claiming that Davis must stand trial in Pakistan and should be blocked from being handed over to the US government.

The US embassy in Islamabad has claimed diplomatic immunity on behalf of Davis, described as a consulate employee, who is under investigation on double murder charges after the shooting in Lahore Thursday.

Pakistan’s courts have so far refused to release the gunman.

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