Govt working to free Balkrishna Dhungel through presidential pardon

Published On: May 21, 2018 07:20 AM NPT By: Ashok Dahal  | @ashokpillar

KATHMANDU, May 21: The Department of Prison Management reportedly under pressure from the Ministry of Home Affairs is working to release convicted murderer former Maoist leader Balkrishna Dhungel from jail before he completes his jail 20-year jail term. Preparations have been made to release him on the occasion of Republic Day on May 29 through a presidential pardon.

Informed sources at the department said Dilli Bazaar Jail, where Dhungel has been kept, said the jail authority has already recommended the department to release the former Maoist leader citing his good behavior during his stay in jail. The jail has recommended 35 inmates including Dhungel for waiver of their jail terms saying the inmates have already completed 40 percent of their terms and demonstrated good behavior.

By mid-April, Dhungel has already completed 40 percent of his term or eight years behind bars.

On the basis of the recommendations, the District Administration Office, Kathmandu, has forwarded the names list to the prison department, which will again forward the names to the Ministry of Home Affairs for approval. After this the list is presented at the cabinet meeting, which then recommends the president to waive the jail terms.

This year, various prison offices have recommended more than 1,000 convicts for presidential pardon citing good behavior.

Asked about the preparations made to release Dhungel, Hari Prasad Mainali, Director General at the Department of Prison Management, hinted that Dhungel could be released if he has already completed 40 percent of the jail term and demonstrated good behavior.

“If he has fulfilled both the criteria and the jail concerned recommends us to waive the jail, he could be released,” said Mainali.

A senior Home Ministry official said the department is tabling the proposal at the ministry on Tuesday.

Absconding murder convict Dhungel was arrested by the Central Investigation Bureau from Satdobato, Lalitpur and taken to jail on October 31 last year.

Dhungel, who was convicted of killing Ujjan Kumar Shrestha of Okhaldhunga during the Maoist insurgency, had already served seven years behind bars in Okhaldhunga Jail until the then Appellate Court reversed the district court's decision to convict him of murder. But in 2010, the Supreme Court overturned the appellate court's decision convicting him of the murder.

After his arrest last October, Dhungel was to serve the remaining 12 years and five months of the total 20-year jail term.

Previously, the then Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai had recommended Dhungel for presidential pardon in November 2011. The plea was also quashed by the apex court.aa

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