The 33 gold which disappeared soon after it was smuggled through the Kathmandu airport several months ago has drawn widespread attention, mainly due to involvement of top police officials. Since the case came to light, at least three people linked to the smuggling have lost their lives.
BIRATNAGAR, May 3: The Office of District Attorney (ODA), Morang, has filed a case in the infamous 33 kg gold smuggling case, accusing 63 people including six police officials of racketeering, gold smuggling, kidnapping and murder.
In a 153-page charge sheet lodged at the District Court, Morang, on Wednesday, the ODA has demanded over Rs 17 billion in fine for around 38 tons of gold that the prosecutors claim the accused smuggled since 2015.
The charge sheet was filed on the basis of documents provided by the district police, according to Nawaraj Dulal, registrar at the District Court, Morang.
The gold which disappeared soon after it was smuggled through the Tribhuvan International Airport several months ago has drawn widespread attention, mainly due to involvement of high-level police officials. Since the case came to light, at least three people linked to the smuggling have lost their lives.
Dulal said that 29 of the 63 accused have been handed over to the court, while charges against others were filed in absentia.
Chudamani Upreti alias Goray, the alleged mastermind whose whereabouts remain unknown, was charged with organized crime, kidnapping and murder, while twenty-eight people who have been arrested in connection with the case were charged with various offenses, according to ODA officials.
Police have so far arrested six former and incumbent police officials, three traders, six people linked with the murder of Sanam Shakya, the smuggler of the 33 kg gold, and 13 officials working at the Tribhuvan International Airport.
Sanam Shakya, a gold trader who has been identified as a personal accountant to Upreti, was killed and his body was recovered from Urlabari Municipality in Morang on March 3. Police found Shakya's body while it was being ferried in a Scorpio jeep along the Godhuli road in Biratnagar. Investigators suspect that Shakya was killed by his own associates.
The police officials indicted in the case include former DIG Govinda Niraula, SSP Dibesh Lohani, SP Bikash Raj Khanal, DSPs Prajit KC and Sanjaya Raut, assistant sub-inspector Bal Krishna Sanjel and constable Bishnu Bahadur Khadka. Lohani was among officials who led a covert operation to arrest Upreti. A recording of phone conversation reveals that Lohani had informed the police headquarters and taken prior consent to reach a fake settlement with Upreti.
The indicted TIA staffers include Lal Bahadur Magar, Hemanta Gauchan, Birendraman Shrestha, Sambir Telange, Bal Krishna Shrestha, Doram Khatri, Kapilraj Puri, Gopal Shrestha, Punya Lama, Rajan Thapa, Raju Maharjan, Amar Dangol and Tularam Tharu. A case of organized crime was filed against gold trader Mahabir Golyan, Rajendraman Shakya and Bhujung Gurung. Similarly, a case of murder and organized crime was field against Mohan Karki, Ekraj Malla, Narendra Karki, Lakpa Sherpa and Mohan Ghimire alias Madhav for allegedly murdering Sanam Shakya.
Senior police officials were taken to the court in a van, while a truck was used to carry other accused. Unlike others, the top cops were not handcuffed.
After the case came to light, the government has formed a special investigation led by Joint Secretary Ishwari Poudel of the Ministry of Home Affairs. The investigation panel has suspected involvement of senior police officials including former IGPs.