Kathmandu, November 3
Government attorneys today urged Kathmandu District Court to send former speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara to judicial custody, arguing that there was enough circumstantial evidence to prove attempt to rape charge against Mahara.
Roshani Shahi, a staffer at the Parliament Secretariat, had filed a first information report on October 4, accusing Mahara of attempting to rape her on September 29 at her rented apartment in Kathmandu.
Making the opening statements in the trial hearing today, Joint Attorney Chandra Kanta Khanal told the court that the victim was being pressured to retract her statement and hence the court should not believe her retractions to be true.
Shahi has retracted her statement twice in the case.
Khanal argued before the court that the video interview shot by editor of www.hamrakura.com Ajaya Babu Siwakoti with the victim after the alleged incident and the video shot by Kathmandu police of the crime scene on the night of September 29 were enough to prove attempt to rape charge against Mahara. “He has said in his statement that he had gone near the victim’s rented apartment and stayed for around 15 to 20 metres from the victim’s apartment without entering. His statement is not reliable because police have seized broken pieces of his spectacles and sole of his shoes from the victim’s apartment. Medical examination proves injury marks on the victim’s body,” Khanal said.
District Attorney Uma Kanta Paudel, Hari Prasad Regmi and Assistant Government Attorney Sirjana Dhakal also pleaded on behalf of the government.
More than a dozen lawyers are defending Mahara whose trial was conducted under the bench of Judge Sudarshan Raj Pandey.
Defence lawyer Lav Kumar Mainali told THT that he told the court that accuser Shahi wanted to file an application with the police office stating that Mahara did not commit sexual offence against her, but the police did not register her complaint. “In this case, the accuser, who is the main person, has been saying that Mahara has not committed any sexual offence against her, and therefore, the case has no merit,” Mainali said. He said the government’s charge of attempt to rape against Mahara was false. “If the government attorneys believe in the accuser’s statement, they should have filed rape case against Mahara because it was reported that she told journalist Ajay Babu Siwakoti and lawmaker Uma Regmi that she had been raped by Mahara,” Mainali said.
He said the victim told the medical doctors, who prepared her report, that she was beaten by Mahara when they engaged in heated exchange, but she did not tell anything about sexual offence because no sexual offence was committed against her.
Mainali said he told the court that the government attorneys’ claim of attempt to rape did not fit the definition of attempt to rape and what they said in the charge-sheet made it a case of sexual harassment as per Section 224 of the new penal code.
“Sexual harassment case should be filed by the victim and not the government,” he argued.
Government Attorney’s Office, Kathmandu, had filed a chargesheet against Mahara on Thursday and Friday, Mahara recorded his statement for almost five hours. Mahara’s trial hearing will continue tomorrow.
If convicted, Mahara could face a jail term from five years and three months up to maximum seven years and six months as per the existing laws.
Trial hearing is likely to conclude tomorrow.
If the trial hearing concludes tomorrow, the bench will decide whether Mahara should be sent to judicial custody or should be released on bail or personal recognisance.
A version of this article appears in print on November 04, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.