33 kg gold smuggling case: Suspects dramatically change their statements to court

BIRATNAGAR: Twenty-nine out of thirty suspects, who were arrested in connection to 33 kilogram gold smuggling and murder of co-conspirator Sanam Shakya, have dramatically changed their statements to the Morang District Court.

A single bench of District Judge Narayan Prasad Sharma had recorded their statements for five days since Thursday.

One of the suspects, Narendra Karki aka Krishna did not change his statement, however, declined to accept his alleged involvement in Sanam Shakya murder.

Karki rather said that he along with Mohan Kafle and Sanam Shakya were victims of the case. "Gold smuggling kingpin Churamani Upreti aka Gore and his accomplices had beaten Kafle, Shakya and me black and blue and gave electric shocks to us inside the vehicle," Karki said to the court.

Earlier, police and government lawyers were convinced that serving police constable Bishnu Bahadur Khadka, alleged gold carrier Narendra Karki aka Krishna and Thai Airways technician helper Sambir Prasad Tolange would not change their statements to the court and had requested 50 per cent reduction in their sentence.

Khadka was aware of the high level police connection in smuggling gold and Tolange knew how the gold was smuggled from Tribhuvan International Airport.

However, police constable Khadka gave contradicting statements to the court and police. Similarly, Tolange also changed his statements to the court. The duo also claimed to be innocent and declined to accept their involvement in the case.

Tek Raj Malla Thakuri, one of the prime suspect in murdering Sanam Shakya and close aide of Churamani Upreti who is the mastermind behind the racket, frequently changed his statements before accepting his involvement in smuggling gold to Nepal from abroad. However he declined his part in murdering co-conspirator Sanam Shakya.

He also said that he earned Rs 13,000 per month as salary for driving Upreti's vehicle.

Police have filed a charge sheet accusing Malla of brutally torturing and electrifying Shakya to death.

Before the court, Malla said he knew about the body only after reaching Bargachi in Biratnagar. Police claimed that Malla had made a deal of Rs 5 million with Upreti to manage the corpse.

Earlier, Malla had waited for DSP Prajit KC, Sub-inspector Bal Krishna Sanjel at Nirman Country Club in Dharan to manage the body of Sanam Shakya, who was killed in a jungle at Urlabari, police claimed.

Police have also submitted the call details between Malla and Sanjel. However, Malla has claimed that all the allegations against him are false.

Former DIG Govinda Niraula, SSP Dinesh Lohani along with other suspects have changed their statements to the court.

According to a report presented by the high-level committee headed by Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Home Affairs Ishwor Poudel, Chudamani Upreti aka Gore, the alleged mastermind of gold smuggling, and his accomplices had smuggled 3,800 kg gold since July 2015.

Earlier, police have filed a charge sheet against 63 persons accusing them in murder of gold carrier Sanam Shakya, gold smuggling, forming criminal group, organised crime, abduction and taking hostage at the Morang District Court.