Police do U-turn on murder accusation against Speaker Sapkota

Published On: March 12, 2020 08:19 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, March 12: Units of the Nepal Police have done a U-turn while furnishing written replies to the Supreme Court (SC) on the murder accusation against Speaker Agni Prasad Sapkota.

Stating that there was no clarity surrounding the murder of Arjun Lama, who was killed in the then Budhakhani Village Development Committee of Kavre during the Maoist armed insurgency, District Police Office (DPO) Kavre recently wrote to the SC that it was still investigating the case. 

The police in their written statement to the apex court argued that they have not found any evidence to date of the burial of Lama’s body.

“No evidence has been found to date and the investigation is still ongoing,” Superintendent of Police Ravi Kumar Paudel of DPO Kavrepalanchwok told the apex court. 

He also recorded a statement arguing that the writ petition filed against Sapkota was baseless and fabricated and the petition deserved to be annulled.

Earlier, the police had reported that they were searching for suspects in connection with Lama’s murder.

Responding to a writ petition filed by Senior Advocate Dinesh Tripathi against Sapkota, the apex court on January 29 issued an order to the authorities concerned to submit a detailed report on the investigations regarding the murder charge filed against Sapkota at District Police Office Kavre. 

The apex court, however, had declined to issue a stay order against Sapkota’s election as lower house speaker.

Nepal Police Headquarters also stated in its written reply that it was the job of the local police unit to investigate the murder and they had been doing their duty. 

The District Police Office Sindhupalchowk also wrote to the SC, stating that it could not issue any arrest warrant against Sapkota as they did not have any evidence against his involvement in the murder.

According to sources at the Supreme Court, the Ministry of Home Affairs also stated in a separate written reply that the allegations against Sapkota were false and fabricated.

A single bench of Justice Sapana Pradhan Malla had refused to bar Sapkota from functioning as the speaker of the lower house, but had explicitly asked the authorities to submit within 30 days the current status of investigations into the pending case.

The bench had ordered the authorities – Ministry of Home Affairs as well as Kavre and Sindhupalchwok DPOs – to submit detailed reports on the investigations carried out on the basis of the complaint filed by Purnimaya Lama, widow of the late Arjun Lama, accusing Sapkota of having a hand in the murder of her husband.

“It would be a matter of expectation from a person who has been elected as speaker and a member of the Constitutional Council that he would act impartially while performing his duties when questions of conflict of interest arise in future,” Pradhan Malla’s ruling of January 29 had stated after Sapkota’s election as speaker was challenged.

The lower house of parliament had elected Sapkota as speaker on January 28 and he took his oath of office and secrecy on the following day.

Senior advocate Dinesh Tripathi had filed the writ petition at the SC, challenging Sapkota’s election as speaker. The writ petitioner had demanded intervention along with an interim order to arrest and prosecute the speaker on the charge of killing Lama.

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