Police arrest one more suspect in refugee scamTwo accused Dulal and Rai record their statements at court. Retired cop urges for public pressure for fair probe.
As the Kathmandu District Court started recording statements of those accused in the fake Bhutanese refugee scam on Friday, police nabbed one more accused who was on the run.
Of those accused, now 17 including former deputy prime minister Rayamajhi, former home minister Khand and suspended government secretary Tek Narayan Pandey have been booked, while 13 others are still absconding.
Kathmandu Police Range spokesman Superintendent of Police Sitaram Rijal said Laxmi Maharjan, 32, was arrested on Friday afternoon.
“Our investigation showed that the racketeers had deposited some of the money on her [Maharjan’s] bank account,” said Rijal.
He said police produced Maharjan at the Kathmandu District Court soon after her arrest on Friday.
Police on Thursday had said their investigation into the high-profile scam continues even after the District Attorney Office Kathmandu prosecuted 30 people including former ministers and top officials at the District Court, Kathmandu on Wednesday.
Talking to the Post on Thursday, Kathmandu Metropolitan Police Range chief Senior Superintendent of Police Dan Bahadur Karki had said ‘their investigation was not over’ as those arrested had disclosed the names of several others.
Also, police said they may submit a supplementary investigation report based on the ongoing investigation.
“Our investigation is still going on because many suspects are still absconding,” said Rijal, the spokesman of Kathmandu Police Range.
Meanwhile, on Friday, two accused Keshav Dulal and Sagar Rai recorded their statements with the single bench of judge Prem Prasad Neupane at Kathmandu District Court.
“The recording of statements will be continued on Sunday,” said Deepak Dahal, spokesman of the Kathmandu District Court.
According to the district attorney’s charge sheet filed at the court on Wednesday, those in judicial custody had disclosed the names of several other high-profile individuals during police interrogation. Those named by the accused 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.
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.
The district attorney office has sought additional punishment for public office holders for treason.
Even questions have been raised about the role played by Nepal Police Chief Inspector General Basanta Bahadur Kunwar while dealing with the suspects in the initial days of investigation.
Former deputy inspector general Hemanta Malla Thakuri said there should be no compromise in punishment in the scam since there is abundant evidance. Amid allegations that Nepal Police chief Basanta Bahadur Kunwar should also be investigated for his suspicious handling of suspects in the initial days of investigation, Malla said nobody is above the law. “IG [inspector general] is not a person, but an institution. He should be punished as per the law if found guilty,” said Malla.
Malla criticised top leaders for attempting to derail the ongoing investigations, while calling on the media and opposition parties in parliament to keep up the pressure for fair investigation.
“Police are doing a fine job, and had there not been media’s strong surveillance over the issue, the investigations would not have come to this level,” said Malla.