Nepali officer cleared of torture charges by UK court

Kathmandu, Sep 7 (IANS) A UK-based Nepal army officer accused of torturing suspected Maoist detainees was on Wednesday acquitted by a British Court, media reports said.

Lt Col Kumar Lama, 49, from St Leonards, London, allegedly ordered the torture of two suspected Maoist rebels, Kamal Husein and Janak Raut, who were held at the Gorusinghe barracks in Kapilvastu district of Nepal in 2005.

Charges against Lama were brought under section 134 of the Criminal Justice Act, which allows suspects to face trial before a British court even if their alleged offences are committed abroad and they are not UK citizens.

He was arrested in January 2013 while vacationing with family in the UK. He was on leave from his posting as a UN peacekeeper in South Sudan.

His solicitor, Jonathan Grimes, a criminal law partner at the law firm Kingsley Napley, said: “I am extremely pleased for Col Lama that this case is finally at an end and that he can put these allegations behind him.”

Baburam Bhattarai, who was Nepal’s Prime Minister when Lama was arrested tweeted: “Britain had committed a blunder by arresting Colonel Lama. It has corrected (the mistake) to some extent by releasing him. Let no one commit a crime of undermining Nepali sovereignty in the upcoming days.”

Lama is the first person to be tried outside Nepal for alleged human rights violations and war crimes in Nepal under the universal jurisdiction.

“The case has already established that the door of universal jurisdiction for the victims of torture and other serious violations is open in the UK and beyond. The experiences that we have gained will help to find justice in other similar cases and to continue with our fight against impunity in Nepal,” Kathmandu Post quoted Mandira Sharma, founder of rights NGO Advocacy Forum.



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