Hearing on whether to remand the defendants in fake Bhutanese refugee scam continuesCountering government prosecutors, lawyers argue that the accused cannot be punished in the matter that has no legal basis.
Lawyers of the defendants of the fake Bhutanese refugee scam have demanded that they should be released on either a general date or on bail as they denied their involvement in the scam.
Countering the allegations against them by the government attorneys, the lawyers have claimed that the accused cannot be punished on the issue for which there is no legal basis.
Hearing is underway to decide whether the defendants could be released on a general date, on bail or be sent to prison for further legal proceedings.
Defending Sanu Bhandari, senior advocate and former attorney general Raman Shrestha claimed that the chargesheet against Bhandari cannot be registered as a case of fraud because there is no legal basis to identify Nepalis as Bhutanese.
He had spoken for Bhandari, an alleged middleman in the fake Bhutanese refugee scam.
Senior advocates Balkrishna Dhakal and Prakash Subedi and advocates Dil Kumari Rai and Kumar Adhikari pleaded on behalf of the accused Indrajit Rai, who was working as security adviser to the erstwhile home minister Ram Bahadur Thapa.
They demanded the court release Rai on a general date or on bail citing his fragile health conditions instead of keeping him in confinement.
During tea time, in a heavily guarded lobby outside the bench room, the defendants including Indrajit Rai, Shumsher Miya and Bhutanese refugee leader Teknath Rizal had their meal while former home minister Balkrishna Khand was roaming around. Rizal and Miya were sharing their meal, while the onlookers were saying they had learnt to share things.
On Wednesday, the respective lawyers of Keshav Dulal, Sanu Bhandari and Tanka Gurung had started pleading on behalf of them. Following the pleading of the six lawyers of Dulal for his release on bail on Wednesday one lawyer had pleaded in favour of Bhandari.
Lawyers Bikash Bhattarai, Bikash Thapa, Bishwas Acharya, Yogendra Bahadur Adhikari, Nar Bahadur Yogi and Rajan Bhattarai had pleaded on behalf of Dulal.
After the hearing of government attorneys that started on Sunday and concluded on Tuesday on whether to remand the defendants in the scam, the lawyers of the defendants have started to defend them with their arguments from Wednesday.
They argued that the defendants have been charged without adequate evidence and only based on the statements of a select few people.
They also argued that the accused were selectively prosecuted while some of the top leaders who were accused of involvement in the scam were not prosecuted.
On Thursday also, they continued to argue that their clients were charged without concrete evidence—saying a person visiting a hotel for his personal work cannot be convicted.
On May 24, the Kathmandu District Attorney’s Office filed criminal cases at the Kathmandu District Court against 30 individuals including former deputy prime minister Top Bahadur Rayamajhi and former home minister Bal Krishna Khand, accusing them of being involved in the fake refugee scam. Of them, 18 have been arrested while the others continue to be at large.
The defendants have been charged with four types of crimes—treason, organised crime, fraud and forgery.