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Judge issues arrest warrant against alleged mastermind behind attack on journalist

(Freedom Forum/IFEX) - 7 July 2011 - Freedom Forum welcomes the seven-day arrest warrant issued against Parshuram Basnet, district vice-chairman of the Youth Force, on 6 July 2011. The warrant was issued in connection with his involvement in an attack on Biratnagar-based journalist Khilanath Dhakal on 5 June. Basnet is the prime suspect accused of the attack.

Judge Meghnath Bhattarai, of the Morang District Court, issued the arrest warrant against Basnet and ordered that two other culprits, the head of the Biratnagar Youth Force, Rohit Koirala, and Youth Force member Manoj Rai, also be remanded in custody for further questioning as Basnet, believed to be the mastermind, is still at large.

After deliberating for four days Judge Bhattarai issued the arrest warrant on 6 July.

The authorities have been negligent in their efforts to capture Basnet. It seems that he is being given political protection.

Dhakal was brutally attacked on 5 June in relation to a story he wrote about an attack by Basnet's gang on a police team and a prisoner on the premises of the Morang District Court.

On 30 June, the Morang Office of the District Attorney filed a case against Basnet and his two accomplices at the District Court in connection with the attack.

Koirala and Rai, who are believed to have carried out the attack, were presented at the Morang District Court by police when the case was filed.

The failure to arrest the mastermind behind the attack for such a long time after the incident took place represents a mockery of justice by the government. Freedom Forum condemns the government's double standard as it promises to both capture Basnet and to give him political protection at the same time. As such, Freedom Forum reiterates its demand that the government assist in securing his immediate arrest.

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