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Imprisonment to Dekendra Thapa's Murderers: Update

On December 3, 2014, District Judge in Dailekh, Dilli Ratna Shrestha, delivered the final verdict on the case of the murder of journalist Dekendra Thapa.

In the verdict, five murder accused who were remanded in custody- Lachhiram Raj Gharti, Hari Lal Punmagar, Jaya Bahadur Sahi, Bir Bahadur KC and Nirak Gharti Magar- are slapped with imprisonment, but for few years.

Bir Bahadur KC is slapped with one year of jail term while Lachhhiram Ghartimagar with one and half year of jail term, and Nirak Ghartimagar, Hari Lal Pun and Jay Bahadur Shahi with two years' of jail term each.

Reasoning that Lachhiram and Bir Bahadur have completed the jail term when counted their remand period, the Court ordered the district jail to release them immediately.

Similarly, the three- Nirak, Hari Lal and Jaya Bahadur's jail term is also completing soon as per the imprisonment they are handed.

Four are still absconding. In case of the fugitives, the murder case will be pending. The fugitive are, Bam Bahadur Khadka (Mukti), Bam Bahadur Khadka (Arun), Keshav Khadka and Bhaktiram Lamichhane.

Freedom Forum welcomes the verdict, but maintains the stand that in the name of transitional period and Truth and Reconciliation Act, the court verdict is slack, for it advocated the release of the murderers than punishing them. With this, neither the fear psychology among the journalists can be reduced nor the impunity be checked. The imprisonment period to the murder accused is very short, which came against the expectation. The murders must be meted out justice in a way it would help
discourage further violations.

Again, the FF demands the government that it arrested the fugitive ones and meted out due punishment.

Background: 
The district attorney of Dailekha on January 28, 2013 had filed a murder case against nine district cadres and leaders of the Maoists parties (ruling UCPN-Maoist, and breakaway faction CPN-Maoist) in the district court Dailekh following the due investigation and establishing proofs on their involvement in the murder of journalist Dekendra Thapa.

Those filed cases against were- Lachhiram Ghartimagar, 45, of Dwari-1, Nirak Bahadur Ghartimagar,41, of Baluwatar-9, Bir Bahadur KC,42, of Baluwatar-4, Hari Lal Punmagar,49, of Dwari-3, Jay Bahadur Shahi of Raniban-1, Bam Bahadur Khadka Arun and Keshav Khadka of Chhiudipusakot-1, Bam Bahadur Khadka Mukti of Katti-1 and Baktiram Lamichhane of Dwari-1.

Despite frequent pressures on the district attorney of Dailekh to halt the investigation by the government (even by the Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai and Attorney General Mukti Pradhan), the nine accused behind murder were taken to the court which created hope of justice among the victim's family and the entire Nepali media.

After eight years of murder that five among nine allegedly involved in abduction and subsequent killing of journalist Dekendra Thapa were arrested on January 4, 2013.

The District Police Office, Dailekh arrested five persons all belonging to then Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). Still, four are the district level leaders and cadres of the ruling Unified Community Party of Nepal (Maoist), and one of the breakaway faction, Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).

They are Lachhiram Gharti Magar of Dwari VDC-1, Bir Bahadur KC of Baluwatar VDC-7, Nirak Bahadur Gharti Magar of Baluwatar-9, and Harilal Pun Magar of Dwari VDC-3, and Jay Bahadur Shahi, a resident of Raniban VDC-1.

Journalist Thapa was abducted on June 26, 2004 and found killed later. Thapa was the reporter with the Radio Nepal from Dailekh, a far-western region of Nepal when he was abducted.

Local reporter to the Radio Nepal, journalist Thapa was abducted and subsequently killed by the UCPN-Maoist (then CPN-Maoist) cadres on August 10, 2004. He was abducted from Chhanna Bazar of Bhawani VDC on June 4, 2004.
PREVIOUSLY:

Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had excavated the dead body of Dailekh-based journalist Dekendra Thapa, who was allegedly murdered by CPN (Maoist) on August 10, 2004. A local correspondent of Radio Nepal, Thapa was abducted from Chhanna Bazar of Bhawani VDC on June 4, 2004 when he reached to the site they called him to discuss over a local dispute.

The FNJ on Tuesday released its official report after a team of forensic experts confirmed that the body exhumed on June 25 was of journalist Thapa. On the basis of clothes found at the site, his family members had identified it as Thapa's body immediately after the forensic experts from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and FNJ representatives excavated it.

FNJ urged the government to take actions at the earliest to those who murdered journalist Dekendra Thapa.

"Similarly, FNJ urges the CPN (Maoist) for support in taking action against its cadres involved in the incident without providing them any type of political protection," said a statement issued by the journalist’s organization.

The NHRC, on Monday, issued directive to the government to file a murder case against persons involved in the killing of Thapa.

The body will be cremated on August 2 in Dailekh, according to the statement.

Freedom Forum also asks the government to not dillydally in taking stern actions against the murderers and urges the Maoist to take initiative to punish those involving in such heinous crime. Freedom Forum expresses its strong solidarity to discourage such moves whoever carries out for whatsoever reason. The Forum also asks international media related organizations to become vocal for actions against the perpetrators.

For More Information
Freedom Forum
Thapathali, Kathmandu
Post Box No: 24292
Phone No. 4102030, 4102022
Website: www.nepalpressfreedom.org; www.freedomforum.org.np
Email: monitoring@freedomforum.org.np; info@freedomforum.org.np;