October 16, 2019 06:58 AM NPT
Disgraced former speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara (center) leaving the Kathmandu District Court on Tuesday. Mahara, who has been charged with attempted rape and is in police custody since the past ten days, was remanded to three more days in custody for investigations. Mahara resigned from speaker on October 1. Photo: Dipesh Shrestha/Republica
KATHMANDU, Oct 16: Kathmandu District Court has remanded former House of Representatives speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara in custody for three more days for investigations into a rape attempt complaint filed against him by a female staffer at the parliament secretariat.
Former speaker Mahara, who resigned from his post following the allegation of rape attempt, was arrested on October 6 after the alleged victim filed a complaint with the police.
Police produced him before the court on Tuesday after keeping him in custody for the past 10 days as the court had remained closed for the Dashain festival.
Although Dashain ended on Friday, the court reopened only on Tuesday. Sunday was a public holiday for the state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping, and the judiciary decided to close courts across the country on Monday to mourn the death of a former chief justice.
“The court has remanded him in custody for 13 days. He has already spent 10 days in custody and will remain in custody at least three more days for the necessary investigations,” said DSP Hobindra Bogati, spokesperson at Metropolitan Police Range, Teku.
The ongoing investigation into the rape allegation is unlikely to conclude within the next three days. They have initiated DNA tests for Mahara, the alleged victim and various items recovered from the latter’s room. “We will seek extension of the custody period if our investigation is not concluded within the given time,” said DSP Bogati. Police sources said samples of the items confiscated from the woman’s room have been sent to the lab for DNA tests.
Police have been unable to record a statement from Mahara as he was taken to Norvic International Hospital, complaining of some health complications. He was taken to the hospital again complaining about respiratory problems shortly after he was produced in court Tuesday.
Bogati said they will resume recording of his statement on Wednesday in the hospital, given his state of health. “We have recorded preliminary statements. The investigations and recording of the statement will not be halted,” he added.
Ruling NCP starts internal consultations to pick new speaker
As the post of speaker has fallen vacant, the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) has expedited consultations within the party to name a candidate for new speaker.
Sources in the party said that any decision on the name of new speaker candidate is unlikely any time soon as both the former Maoists and former CPN-UML leaders are trying to secure the position for someone from their respective camps.
The NCP came into being after the unification of the former CPN (Maoist Center) and CPN-UML. Mahara belonged to the Maoist Center, and its former leaders within the NCP have demanded that the position should be given to them again.
They have floated the names of Dev Gurung and Onsari Gharti Magar for the post. Two other former Maoist leaders, Lekharaj Bhatta and Agni Sapkota, are also said to be vying for the post.
However, Prime Minister KP Oli and other influential leaders of the former UML have been lobbying for a speaker from among the former UML. Sources said Prime Minister Oli is in favor of giving Subash Nembang the post of speaker again.
Oli on Tuesday held consultations with Deputy Speaker Shiva Maya Tumbahamphe. Sources said he suggested to Tumbahamphe to resign from her post, offering her a cabinet berth in return. Tumbahamphe belonged to the former UML.
Since there is a constitutional provision under which the speaker and deputy speakers have to be from two different parties, the NCP wants Tumbahamphe out of the way so that they can pick someone from their party for the post of speaker.