Kathmandu, November 8
The Special Court today registered a case of subversion against the five footballers who were accused of match-fixing in international tournaments.
“The Plaintiff has demanded life imprisonment for the defendants as per sub-section 3.1 of Article 3 of Crime Against State Act 2046,” informed Special Court official Ram Mani Phuyal, after the footballers were sent back to custody.
Article 3, sub-section 3.1 states: If someone causes or attempts to cause any disorder with an intention to jeopardise sovereignty, integrity or national unity of Nepal, he/she shall be liable to life imprisonment.
“Because of lack of time for recording the statement of defendants, who were produced before the court with accusation papers in a case related to crime against the state, the court has sent them back with Sub-Inspector Kabiraj Ale and asked him to produce the footballers before the court at 10:00am tomorrow,” Phuyal added.
The police had brought the defendants before the court at 3:55pm, five minutes before the court was due to close.
Kathmandu Metropolitan Police Range had arrested national team skipper Sagar Thapa, his deputy Sandeep Rai, goalkeeper Ritesh Thapa and former players Anjan KC and Bikash Singh Chhetry on match-fixing charges on October 14, following a tip-off from Asian Football Confederation, which had worked with Sportradar Security Services.
The Special Court had already extended the judicial custody for the accused for 24 days.
In a brief conversation with media on the premises of the court, suspended skipper Sagar Thapa said they were confident that the final verdict would be in their favour.
“Investigation is going on and we are confident that things will go in our favour,” said suspended skipper Thapa. “Let’s see what happens,” he added.
Following the arrest of the five footballers, ANFA has suspended them from all football-related activities until the final verdict.
The AFC said that the Asian football governing body coordinated with Sportradar Security Services and Nepal Police before taking them into custody. “The process leading to the arrests began when suspicious betting patterns were detected in a number of matches played by the Nepali national team. A year-long investigation followed, involving matches stretching back to 2008 with further intelligence gathering revealing suspicious financial transactions linked to Nepali nationals. The intelligence that had been gathered was shared with Nepal Police and a formal investigation, which has so far resulted in five arrests, was launched,” said AFC, which has provisionally suspended the footballers for 30 days.
A version of this article appears in print on November 09, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.