Police to continue refugee scam probeThe accused and other suspects may face additional charges based on new revelations in the case.
Police on Thursday said their investigation into the high-profile Bhutanese refugee scam continues even after the District Attorney Office Kathmandu prosecuted 30 persons including former ministers and top officials at the District Court, Kathmandu on Wednesday. The prosecutions were based on a police investigation report the attorney’s office received on Monday.
“Our investigation is not over,” Kathmandu Police Range Chief Senior Superintendent of Police Dan Bahadur Karki told the Post, adding those interrogated earlier have named more names.
Police officials said they may submit a supplementary investigation report based on the new investigation.
On Monday, police submitted the investigation report with a recommendation to prosecute 33 individuals including former deputy prime minister Top Bahadur Rayamajhi and former home minister Bal Krishna Khand in connection with the scam. Based on the report, the district attorney office filed cases against 30 individuals (the addresses of three suspects could not be ascertained).
Of those accused, 16 including former deputy prime minister Rayamajhi, former home minister Khand and suspended government secretary Tek Narayan Pandey are already in police net, while the other 17 are on the run.
Karki told the Post that his office has stepped up vigilance all across the country. “Police are on the hunt for those on the run,” he said.
According to the attorney’s charge sheet filed at the court on Wednesday, those in judicial custody have taken the names of several other high-profile individuals while recording their statements in the course of police investigation. These names include the sitting chief of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority Prem Kumar Rai, wife of former home minister Manju Khand, former home minister Ram Bahadur Thapa’s wife Naina Kala Thapa, some members of the secretariat of CPN-UML chair KP Sharma Oli, and several others connected to top politicians.
Questions have even been raised about the role played by Nepal Police chief Basanta Bahadur Kunwar while dealing with the suspects in the initial days of investigation.
According to SSP Karki, a team from the investigation section at the Kathmandu District Range has been working in coordination with police offices across the country.
The District Attorney Office Kathmandu on Wednesday charged the 30 accused with four types of crimes—treason, organised crime, fraud and forgery.
Officials at the district attorney said they have sought additional punishment for the public office holders including former ministers, secretaries and political appointees at government offences, and government employees for working against national interest and for tarnishing the country’s image.
“We have sought additional punishment for public office holders for treason,” Mahesh Prasad Khatri, district attorney at the District Attorney Office, told the Post.
According to the attorney office’s charge sheet, besides Rayamajhi and Khand, others prosecuted include Indrajeet Rai, security advisor to former home minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, suspended government secretary Tek Narayan Pandey, former lawmaker Ang Tawa Sherpa, Bhutanese human rights leader Tek Nath Rijal, Rayamajhi’s son Sandeep, middlemen Keshav Prasad Dulal, Sanu Bhandari, Sandesh Sharma, Ram Sharan KC, Shumsher Miya, Tanka Kumar Gurung, Sagar Rai, Narendra KC, and Govinda Chaudhary. All of them are in judicial custody.
Likewise, the accused on the run who were prosecuted on Wednesday include Prateek Thapa (son of former home minister Thapa), Keshav Tuladhar, Laxmi Maharjan, Dhiren Rai, Mohan Raj Rai, Deepa Humagain, Sunil Budhathoki, Binita Saoden Limbu, Niranjan Kumar Kharel, Hari Bhakta Maharjan, Ashok Pokharel, Rajesh Aryal, Niraj Rai and Ashish Budhathoki.