KATHMANDU, June 16: The Kathmandu District Court has ordered the pre-trial detention of 16 people, including former ministers Balkrishna Khand and Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, and Secretary Tek Narayan Pandey, in connection with the fake refugee scam.
A single bench of Judge Prem Prasad Neupane ordered that two people, including Lakshmi Maharjan, be released on bail after two weeks of detention. The court has ordered the release of Maharjan on a bail of Rs 500,000 and Tank Kumar Gurung on Rs 1 million.
After nearly two months of investigation, the police filed a case against 30 people through the Kathmandu District Attorney's Office on May 24, charging them with fraud, forgery, treason, and organized crime. There was a closed debate on the case in the court from June 4. Although the hearing was planned to be concluded on Tuesday, the debate was prolonged and continued until Friday.
The single bench of Judge Neupane ordered that 16 people, including former Home Minister Khand, be sent to Jagannath Deval (Sundhara) Jail for remand. The order issued on Friday is not the final decision on the case. Those who are not satisfied with this order of the District Court can appeal to the High Court. However, former Deputy Prime Minister Rayamajhi, former Home Minister Khand, then Home Minister's Security Adviser Indrajit Rai, and Secretary Tek Narayan Pandey will remain in custody until the higher courts issue a different order in the case.
The masterminds of this scam, Keshav Dulal and Sanu Bhandari, Bhutanese rights leader Teknath Rijal, Sagar Rai, Sandesh Sharma, Top Bahadur's son Sandeep Rayamazhi, Narendra KC, Govind Chaudhary, Ram Sharan KC, former lawmaker Angtawa Sherpa, Chairman of Haj Committee Shamsher Mia, and Haribhakt Maharjan will remain in prison.
At least two accused are currently absconding. The hearing against them will take place only after they appear in court. Police investigations have revealed that the accused had taken a huge amount of money from hundreds of youths in the name of sending them to the US disguised as Bhutanese refugees.