LAHORE, Pakistan — A Pakistani court on Friday ordered an American official, arrested in the killing of two Pakistanis, to be held for another two weeks while the authorities prepared charges in what the police called a “coldblooded” murder.
The official, Raymond A. Davis, 36, whose arrest has cast a chill over relations between the United States and Pakistan, said he acted in self-defense when he shot the men in an attempted daylight robbery on Jan. 27.
After a 30-minute, closed-door court hearing, the Lahore city police chief, Aslam Tareen, said that Mr. Davis had committed “coldblooded” murder, a statement that appeared likely to further inflame the highly contentious case. Mr. Davis was transferred to a crowded city jail to await formal charges.
A lawyer for Mr. Davis, Hassam Qadir, asked Judge Aneeq Anwar Chaudry of the Municipal Court to adhere to the principles of diplomatic immunity and release Mr. Davis. The State Department has repeatedly said that he is protected by diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention and must be released immediately.
In a statement on Friday night, the senior American official posted to Lahore, Carmela Conroy, who heads the consulate there, described the shooting as “a tragedy.” At the same time, she criticized the Pakistani authorities for ignoring what she called eyewitness accounts and physical evidence, including the police statement that one of the assailants carried a loaded gun. Mr. Davis was entitled to “full immunity from criminal prosecution,” and under the rules of diplomacy should be freed immediately, she said.
In response to the American demands for Mr. Davis’s release, Pakistani officials say he will be dealt with in the courts.
Although senior Pakistani officials agree in private that Mr. Davis, who carries a diplomatic passport, is protected by the Vienna Convention, they appear unable or unwilling to enforce the protocol, according to senior American officials.
The civilian government of President Asif Ali Zardari is being assailed daily in the news media about the case, and the cause of the two dead men has been taken up by right-wing religious parties.
The Pakistani military and security apparatus appear to be willing to allow the Davis case to dominate the relationship with Washington for the moment, American and Pakistani officials said. That way, Pakistan can wring concessions on the breadth of the presence of American security officials and contractors in Pakistan, an issue that is at the center of deepening antagonism among the Pakistani public toward the United States, according to the officials.
American officials said that two armed men threatened Mr. Davis when he was driving alone on a busy Lahore road, and that he fired in self-defense.
The statement on Friday night said that Mr. Davis was assigned as an “administrative and technical” member of the staff at the American Embassy in Islamabad. But his exact duties have not been explained, and the reason he was driving alone with a Glock handgun, a pocket telescope and GPS equipment has fueled speculation in the Pakistani news media.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has warned the Pakistani government in telephone calls to Mr. Zardari that the continued detention of Mr. Davis threatened the foundations of the strategic relationship between the two countries.
As the United States government argued for Mr. Davis’s release, photographs and video from his camera and his cellphone were shown on two Pakistani television channels in what appeared to be deliberate leaks by the Pakistani security forces.
Several images showed one of the two men, Faizan Haider, lying on the road after he had been shot, a pistol in his hand.
Other photographs showed the road near Lahore that leads to the border with India, old military bunkers along the road and office buildings in the city.
The video taken shortly after Mr. Davis was detained included his voice asking the police the whereabouts of his passport. In the video, he is heard saying he works as a consultant at the United States Consulate in Lahore.
Mr. Davis, who arrived at the court in an armored van with tight security, was kept away from the news media.
While in detention, he will be segregated from the rest of the prisoners but will not be allowed access to the Internet or a cellphone, a senior government official said. Mr. Davis wore a gray suit and tie in court on Friday, in contrast to the checked shirt and jeans he was wearing when he was arrested, according to a lawyer who attended the session.
“By the book,” was how the official described the treatment of Mr. Davis in the jail that housed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the former president and prime minister, and, in the early 1990s, Mr. Zardari, who was held on corruption charges that he has contended were politically motivated and never proven.
Waqar Gillani reported from Lahore, and Jane Perlez from Mingora, Pakistan.