ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
A CIA security contractor who was jailed in Pakistan was acquitted today in the shooting deaths of two Pakistani men. The case of Raymond Davis has seriously tested U.S.-Pakistan relations.
And its dramatic end came when the families of the deceased pardoned Davis in court. In exchange, the attorney of the relatives says they received financial compensation.
From Lahore, NPR's Julie McCarthy reports that the families may have forgiven Davis, but the controversy over the killings is far from settled.
JULIE McCARTHY: The end to the protracted Davis affair came suddenly. What many believed would be the day Raymond Davis was officially indicted for murder turned out very differently.
Inside a closed courtroom, family members of the men he said he killed in self-defense were called one by one before the judge. Lawyers inside the hearing said the judge then questioned each of them, asking: Do you accept this agreement to pardon Davis voluntarily?
Each of the 18 relatives said yes and signed an affidavit that ended one of the most contentious episodes in recent Pakistan-U.S. relations.
The Punjab law minister, Rana Sanaullah, says the judge also asked:
Mr. RANA SANAULLAH (Law Minister): (Foreign language spoken)
McCARTHY: You have received the money? They said yes. Islamic law allows compensation in exchange for forgiveness.
Lawyers familiar with the case say the two families received over $2 million. The families were not heard from again nor could they be located tonight.
Initially, they had received backing from religious parties that are deeply opposed to the United States.
Analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi says they may have gone into hiding after agreeing to the deal that freed Davis.
Mr. HASAN ASKARI RIZVI (Political Analyst): They would go into hiding because a lot of these Islamist political parties would be after them. It is also possible that the families that got the money have also flown out of Pakistan.
McCARTHY: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke in Egypt tonight with my colleague and MORNING EDITION host Steve Inskeep about the Davis affair. She said the United States was very grateful for the families' decision to pardon Davis but denied that the United States paid any so-called blood money to the families.
STEVE INSKEEP: A lawyer involved in the case said it was $2.34 million. There's no money that came from anywhere?
Secretary HILLARY CLINTON (Department of State): The United States did not pay any compensation.
INSKEEP: Did someone else, to your knowledge?
Sec. CLINTON: You will have to ask whoever you are interested in asking about that.
INSKEEP: You're not going to talk about it.
Sec. CLINTON: I have nothing to answer to that.
McCARTHY: A senior official with Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, called Clinton's denial intriguing and asked if the United States didn't pay, who did?
The mood on the streets of Lahore tonight alternated between acceptance and anger. The case of Raymond Davis came to symbolize for many Pakistanis one more offense that they say the Americans have gotten away with. Shahid Imran is a university student.
Mr. SHAHID IMRAN (Student): The (unintelligible) in the hearts and brains of this young generation. And this young generation is against America. If I go to America, and I fire in your country, what will be your feeling?
McCARTHY: If you shot someone in our country, you're asking, what would our feelings be?
Mr. IMRAN: Yes.
McCARTHY: For some members of Pakistan's older generation, the case ended as it should have.
Mr. FAROOQ AHMAD: (Speaking foreign language).
McCARTHY: Sixty-three-year-old Farooq Ahmad said the settlement is an excellent thing, that forgiveness is good. And he hopes that Raymond Davis looks into his heart and sees what he has done.
Julie McCarthy, NPR News, Lahore.
SIEGEL: And as you just heard, NPR's Steve Inskeep spoke today with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. You can hear more of that interview tomorrow on MORNING EDITION.