IPI Nepal Committee welcomes arrest of suspects in 2004 journalist killing
Reports allege Dekendra Thapa was buried alive on orders of political party leaders
By: Siromani Dhungana, Communication/Outreach Officer, IPI Nepal Chapter
KATHMANDU, Jan 8, 2013 – The International Press Institute’s (IPI) Nepal National Committee today welcomed the decision of police in Dailekh, in mid-western Nepal, to prosecute suspects allegedly involved in the 2004 abduction and subsequent killing of Dailekh-based journalist Dekendra Thapa.
Dailekh district police arrested five individuals all belonging to the then-Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). A further four accused, who are district-level leaders and cadres of the ruling Unified Community Party of Nepal (Maoist), and one belonging to a breakway faction called the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist are still at large.
Laxmi Ram Gharti Magar, Bir Bahadur KC, Nirak Bahadur Gharti Magar, Harilal Pun Magar, Jay Bahadur Shahi were those arrested by police. However, Bam Bahadur Khadka, Bam Bahadur Khadka, Keshav Khadka — who have been implicated by Thapa’s wife — are still at large, among two others.
Police inspector Binod Sharma has stated nine persons were directly involved in Thapa’s murder. The accused are reported to have admitted to burying Thapa alive.
According to police, the accused have also confessed that the CPN-Maoist had issued a directive to have Dekendra killed. In a statement, Laxmi Ram reportedly informed that Dekendra was tortured for questioning irregularities in a drinking water project and for participating in a function attended by the former Nepalese king Gyanendra.
Thapa was a reporter for Radio Nepal in Dailkeh when he was abducted on June 4, 2004. He was found murdered on Aug. 10, 2004.
Evidence pertaining to Thapa’s murder was collected after the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) excavated the journalist’s body in the presence of a team of forensic experts.
The IPI Nepal National Committee urges police to conduct a fair investigation and to take stringent action against the culprits regardless of the latter’s political position.
"The arrest of the alleged murderers has provided relief to the journalist’s family as well as to media workers across the country," Padma Singh Karki, president of IPI’s Nepal National Committee, said.
"It is very sad to learn that the ruling Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and the breakaway faction Communist Party of Nepal –Maoist have openly demanded the unconditional release of accused," he said, adding that the IPI firmly believes that the government will demonstrate its commitment to the rule of law.
IPI Nepal National Committee condemns the pressure put on the government by the ruling party to withdraw the murder case, Karki said, and strongly urged the government government to punish those involved in what he called a "heinous" crime.
"The arrest of the accused is a very tangible step against the growing culture of impunity in this country," Karki added. "So, the government must not back down but rather take stern action against all those involved in the murder. Any political protection provided to these individuals poses a great threat to the rule of law."
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IPI Nepal Chapter