(RSF/IFEX) - On 19 October 2002, RSF expressed outrage over the "policeman of the year" award granted to Kathmandu Police Chief Bikram Singh Thapa by Crown Prince Paras Bir Bikram Shah. Chief Bikram Singh Thapa was reportedly involved in the death by torture of pro-Maoist newspaper editor Krishna Sen earlier this year.
"This reward to a torturer is disgusting," said RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard in a letter to Nepal's newly-appointed prime minister, Lokendra Bahadur Chand. "What hope is there for justice to be served when the authorities demonstrate such contempt for human rights? Impunity and police violence have become a state institution in Nepal," Ménard noted.
Ménard called for the award to be withdrawn. It was presented to Chief Bikram Singh Thapa on 16 October, during a ceremony marking Police Day, in honour of his "professionalism" and "bravery", for "having put his life on the line throughout his career". Ménard also demanded that a new investigation be launched into Sen's disappearance and presumed death.
The award set off a controversy, including discussions at the Home Ministry, a sign that suspicions hang over the police chief's role in the Sen case.
A 15 October report by the Damocles Network and RSF concluded that Sen probably died under torture on 28 May, eight days after his arrest, in an interrogation room at Kathmandu's Mahendra Police Club. Police Chief Bikram Singh Thapa is said to have been present at the time.