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RSF urges government to continue efforts to identify those responsible for editor's abduction and murder

(RSF/IFEX) - RSF has urged the government to continue its efforts to identify those responsible for the 27 July 2003 abduction and murder of Amar Lama, managing editor of the news weekly "Tajakhabar" ("Fresh News"), and to establish their motives. Lama was also a businessman, singer and member of the opposition Nepali Congress Party (NPC).

In a letter to Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa, who is also interior minister, RSF said it welcomed the creation of a commission of inquiry and the arrest of three suspects, but the organisation urged him to "make real resources available to the investigators in order to determine whether Amar Lama's murder was linked to his work as a journalist."

Lama was kidnapped by three individuals when he went to his newspaper's office to hand in an article. They introduced themselves as police officers who wanted to talk to him. Lama tried to escape and a chase ensued in the streets of the Kalikasthan district of the capital, Kathmandu. Once the assailants caught Lama, they beat him and took him away in a taxi. His body was found with a bullet in the head an hour later in Kirtipur, 10 kilometres south of Kathmandu. Two women who witnessed the scene said one of the killers made a call on his mobile phone and said, "the job is done."

Dataram Adhikari, the taxi driver who drove the three men before and after Lama's abduction, surrendered to the police on 28 July. He said he had no links with the killers. A few hours later, police arrested three suspects, including Binita Shrestha, a former business associate of Lama. Lama's wife told police that the editor had previously received threats from Binita Shrestha.

Also on 28 July, the government put Judge Madav Lal Shrestha in charge of the investigation. He is expected to submit a report in two weeks.

Lama is known in Nepal for being the driver of two historic leaders of the far-left Communist Party of Nepal - Unified Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML) party when they were killed in a 1993 accident. The CPN-UML blamed Lama for their deaths and he served a five-year prison sentence. He had been a member of the NPC since his release and recently took over the running of "Tajakhabar".

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