Sobhraj defaulting lawyers’ payment

Kathmandu, August 14:

Lawyers defending Charles Sobhraj, who has been serving a jail term on murder charges,

said their client does not pay them regularly.

Former Attorney-General Badri Bahadur Karki recently walked out of Sobhraj’s team of defence lawyers.”He left the team because Sobhraj has not been paying fees regularly,” said a member of the defence lawyers’ team. Karki left because of hype over the Sobhraj case, the member added.

“Karki said he would submit a written argument if needed, but would not attend the court to defend Sobhraj,” the defence team member said. Currently, Karki is on a foreign trip.

“Karki also expressed dissatisfaction over Sobhraj’s move to appoint some lawyers with political links at a time when his case is at the final stage,” the defence team member added. Another senior member of the team also grudged that he was not being paid regularly. “Sobhraj has not been paying me regularly,” he told this daily on condition of anonymity. “We do not plead cases for free,” he added.

Sobhraj had appointed Maoist lawmaker Khim Lal Devkota’s wife Laxmi Devkota and his fiancée Nihita Biswas’s mother Sakuntala Thapa as his lawyers.

A division bench of Justices Min Bahadur Rayamajhi and Kalyan Shrestha has been examining Sobhraj’s case. Next hearing on the case is scheduled for Monday.

According to advocate Ram Bandhu Sharma, Sobhraj is trying to appoint another former senior advocate Laxmi Bahadur Nirala, who was appointed AG by former King Gyanendra.

Immediately after his arrest in September 2003, Sobhraj had approached former Attorney- General Sushil Pant and the then president of Nepal Bar Association Shambhu Thapa to fight his case. However, the two had turned down the offer.

“I did not take up Sobhraj’s case because his team had proposed to pay me upon his release,” Thapa told this daily.

“Sobhraj defence team requested me to be part of the team several times, but I rejected the

request,” Thapa added. “I told them that I never plead on credit,” he recalled.

Senior advocate Basanta Ram Bhandari, advocates Lok Bhakta Rana, Ram Bandhu Sharma and Rajaram Dhakal have been defending Sobhraj at present.