Contempt of court case against PM in journalist murder case
From Shirish B Pradhan
Kathmandu, Jan 13 (PTI) Nepal Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai had a contempt of court case slapped against him for his alleged intervention in the 2004 case of a journalist''s killing, even as his close aide warned that the peace process would derail if the accused Maoist cadres were prosecuted.
Police recently arrested the Maoist cadres accused of torturing and killing a radio journalist during Nepal''s period of insurgency, and Bhattarai has clearly stated that prosecution in cases of that era was against the spirit of the peace accord that ended the insurgency.
The Democratic Lawyers Association (DLA) and the Nepal Press Union (NPU) filed a contempt of court case against the Prime Minister, Attorney General Mukti Pradhan and other top government officials for their alleged intervention in the criminal prosecution of accused in the murder case of journalist Dekendra Thapa.
Thapa was allegedly tortured and buried alive by the local Maoist cadres in Dailekh district of far-west Nepal in 2004.
The lawyers and journalists'' bodies also named Home Minister Bijay Gachhadar, Inspector General of Nepal Police Kuber Rana, District Attorney of Dailekh, Dambar Kafle and Chief of District Police Office Sharada Chaudhary and lawyers have demanded maximum punishment to the defendants.
The plaintiffs have cited reports that the country''s executive head ordered the authorities -- Ministry of Home Affairs and the Office of the Attorney General -- to thwart the process of statement recording of five of the accused Maoist cadres.
However, Bhattarai''s political adviser, Devendra Poudel warned that the peace process will derail if investigation into the murder of Thapa is allowed to continue.
"Attempts are being made to derail the peace process by taking up issues which were already settled through peace agreement," Poudel said, talking to reporters during an interaction programme here today.
Poudel said such cases that happened during the conflict period should be dealt with by setting up a truth and reconciliation commission. "It takes us nowhere going against the peace accord signed by ourselves," he said.
He also warned that the government will not stay silent if the opposition takes to the streets over the issue.
Meanwhile, a writ petition was also filed at the Supreme Court today seeking to revoke the Attorney General''s directives to halt the interrogation of the alleged murderers of the journalist.
The government through the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) on Friday had directed the Nepal Police and the Dailekh Attorney''s Office to stop recording statements and halt the interrogation of the culprits involved in the murder of Thapa.
The writ petition was filed by human rights activist Govinda Sharma Bandi.