Outrage over withdrawal of cases against Nepal Maoists

Kathmandu: A Nepalese rights watchdog on Monday slammed Home Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara for seeking to withdraw cases registered against Maoist cadres during the decade-long civil war and demanded the removal of cabinet minister Agni Sapkota, who has been accused of murder.

"Withdrawing his (Sapkota) case is a big challenge to the spirit of democracy. As part of the peace process, human rights violators during the decade-long conflict should be brought to justice," said Citizen's Task Force to Combat Impunity (CTFCI).

Sapkota, the minister for Information and Communications in the Communist-led government, has been charged with the killing Arjun Lama of Kavre Palanchowk during the civil war that ended in 2006.

The Home Minister had earlier announced that around 300 cases registered with district authorities against Maoist cadres are in the process of being withdrawn as they are of "political nature".

"We urge the government and the Maoists to call back Minister Sapkota, bring him to book, ask him to respect the court order and initiate investigation into human rights violations during the conflict," it said in a statement.

The minister's refusal to appear before police is a challenge to rule of law and independent judiciary, it added.

The Maoists, who led a decade-long insurgency before joining mainstream politics, emerged as the largest single party in 2008 Constituent Assembly elections.

It formed a coalition under its supremo Prachanda that was forced to resign amid a row over the dismissal of the then Army chief Rukmangad Katawal.