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Concern over pressure to withdraw charges against journalist's murderers

(Freedom Forum/IFEX) - Freedom Forum is concerned over the ill efforts of the UCPN-Maoist leaders to shelve the murder case of journalist Dekendra Thapa.

The organisation has learnt that former prime minister and chairman of the UCPN-Maoist party, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, and Vice-Chairman Mohan Baidya have put undue pressure on the Prime Minister, Baburam Bhattarai, to withdraw the murder case of Dailekha-based journalist Thapa.

A local reporter for Radio Nepal, Thapa was abducted from Chhanna Bazar of Bhawani VDC on June 4, 2004. He was subsequently killed by UCPN-Maoist (then CPN-Maoist) cadres and subsequently killed on August 10, 2004.

Thapa's murder was confirmed by the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) by excavating the dead body on June 25, 2008, in the presence of a team of forensic experts.

Dekendra's wife, Laxmi, had filed a first information report at the District Police Office against Maoist cadres Bag Bahadur Khadka, Keshav Khadka, Lachhiram Gharti and Bam Bahadur Khadka on August 29, 2008. However, no action was taken against them.

Now the Maoist party, which is leading the government, is attempting to release party cadres convicted of various crimes.

The recent effort to cancel or withdraw the murder case implicating the party cadres comes after a series of political protections granted to the criminals.

Freedom Forum condemns the pressure put on the Prime Minister to withdraw the murder case. Rather, the Forum urges the government to punish those involved in the heinous crime.

"With the rising state of impunity in the country, if the government withdraws this case as well, it will become sheer mockery of the rule of law and media freedom. So the government must not withdraw but take stern action against all involved in the murder. The political protection given to the criminals is a great threat to rule of law," says Freedom Forum Chairman Taranath Dahal.

Meanwhile, with Freedom Forum's legal facilitation, the attackers of journalist Govinda KC of Dailekh district have been arrested.

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