Mahara makes court statement, denies charges

Published On: November 2, 2019 08:10 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Nov 2: Ex-speaker of the lower house of parliament Krishna Bahadur Mahara, who resigned from the post following allegations of the attempted rape of a female  employee at the parliament secretariat last month, rejected most of the allegations in the charge sheet while recording his statement before Kathmandu District Court, Friday. 

According to court officials, Mahara denied meeting the alleged victim or any physical contact as claimed in the charge sheet filed by the District Attorney’s Office (DAO) Kathmandu on Thursday. The office has submitted verbatim a statement given to police by the woman immediately after the alleged incident, the first on-site report, fingerprint samples and forensics objects seized from her room. Mahara reportedly left the room after the incident, according to police investigations. 

The victim had claimed that Mahara was in her room for about two hours, there was physical assault, and he left behind his broken glasses, the insole of one of his shoes and some leftover whiskey when police arrived in response to phone calls. Police investigation traced Mahara’s phone location at the time to that very place. Police also tallied the CCTV footage at Mahara’s official residence at Baluwatar and the woman’s quarters at Tinkune and these showed his movement in that area at that time. 

Mahara, however, claimed before the court on Friday that he turned back from outside the house where the woman lived as she didn’t respond to repeated phone calls. “I didn’t even enter her room as she didn’t answer my calls. All those objects mentioned in the charge sheet don’t belong to me,” a court official quoted Mahara as saying to the judge. He further claimed that the woman used to address him as ‘sir’ as a guardian and they had known each other for decades. 

It took five hour and 30 minutes for Mahara to record his statement at the bench of Judge Sudarshan Raj Pandey, said court information officer Gyanendra Bahadur Karki. “Preliminary hearings in the case will start only on Sunday,” he also said. After concluding the hearing, the court will decide whether to send him into custody until the final verdict or release him on bail. 

Mahara has lined up a roster of top legal professionals for his defense, including former attorney general Raman Shrestha. 

Meanwhile the victim, who changed her statement a week after the alleged incident, has filed a complaint of cybercrime against journalist Ajay Babu Shiwakoti, who broke the Mahara story.

Sending a complaint through the post on Friday, she has accused the journalist of recording an interview with her without prior permission and at a time when she was semi-conscious after taking medication for depression, said Mahara’a legal counsel Shrestha.

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