Kumar Lama arrest was Britain's blunder, says Bhattarai

KATHMANDU: Former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai remarked that Britain to some extent has corrected the grave mistake that it committed by arresting Nepal Army's Colonel Kumar Lama through his acquittal of war crime charges.

A former Maoist rebel, Bhattarai was Nepal's Prime Minister when the senior army official was arrested on charge of war crime, committed in Nepal during the Himalayan nation's decade long bloody conflict, from London during his personal visit on January 3, 2013.

"Britain had committed a blunder by arresting Colonel Lama," Bhाttarai wrote on Twitter today, a day after Lama was acquitted of torture and human rights violation during Nepal’s decade-long armed conflict. "It has corrected (the mistake) to some extent by releasing him," he added, cautioning all against undermining Nepal's sovereignty.

"Let no one commit a crime of undermining Nepali sovereignty in the upcoming days," he warned.

कर्णेल लामालाई पक्रेर वेलायतले गम्भीर गल्ती गरेकोथियो! अहिले छोडेर केही सच्याएकोछ!आगामी दिनमा नेपाली सम्प्रभुता मिच्ने अपराध कसैले नगरोस्!

— Baburam Bhattarai (@brb1954) September 7, 2016

The Central Criminal Court in Old Bailey, London on Tuesday had acquitted Lama and closed the case, citing lack of evidences against him on torture charges. The Court heard heard the decision not to go ahead with the retrial was made because of inconsistencies in evidence, BBC reported.


Col Lama faced trial under the Section 134 of the United Kingdom's Criminal Justice Act, which allows trial against an individual irrespective of his nationality and place of crime  --  on charges of inflicting severe pains to two detainees during the height of Maoist insurgency in Nepal in 2005.

Col Lama is the first person to be tried outside Nepal for alleged human rights violation and war crimes committed in Nepal under the universal jurisdiction. He, who was deputed to the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, was vacationing with his family in London when he was arrested.

Bhattarai, who severed his ties with the Maoist party, currently leads Naya Shakti Nepal, a new political party. He was the head of the so-called people's government of the Maoist rebels during the insurgency period.

At least 16,278 people -- security personnel, Maoist rebels and general public included -- were killed and hundreds of people went missing during the conflict, which formally ended with Bhattarai's former party joining the mainstream politics by giving up arms.