THT 10 YEARS AGO: Lauda Air case: Court acquits all accused

Kathmandu, August 13, 2007

The Special Court today acquitted all the accused in the Lauda Airlines corruption case filed by the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA).

The CIAA had accused former Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Tarani Dutta Chataut and some officials of the Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) of embezzling Rs 389 million while signing an 18-month lease contract for an airbus with Lauda Airlines of Vienna, Austria, eight years ago. A three-member panel of judges Bhoopdhoj Adhikary, Komal Nath Sharma and Cholendra SJB Rana today said the defendants have been acquitted on the basis of evidence and facts.

The bench observed that since there was no legal provision that barred leasing of airbuses, the then Royal Nepal Airlines Corporation (RNAC) had the authority to lease the airbus.

The CIAA had filed the case against Chataut, chairman of the RNAC Hari Bhakta Shrestha, executive director Tirtha Lal Shrestha and members of the board of directors Siddha Raj Joshi, Gauri Nath Sharma, Raja Ram Upadhyaya, Upedenra Prasad Upadhayay and Pushkar Prasad Wagle.

The bench was unable to serve notices to the chief executive directors and an official of Lauda Airlines. The CIAA had said that the then cabinet led by Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala had committed a mistake while allowing the lease. The anti-graft body had warned the PM against “repeating such a mistake.”

The main opposition party, the CPN (UML), had then demanded Koirala’s resignation. It had disrupted the 19th session of the House of Representatives.

NSU activists hurt in clash with ANNISU-R

Kathmandu, August 13, 2007

More than 10 students of Thapathali Engineering Campus affiliated to the Nepal Students’ Union and campus chief Dhan Prasad Pokhrel were hurt in a clash between activists of the NSU and the All Nepal National Independent Students Union-Revolutionary this morning.

Four ANNISU-R-affiliated students have been arrested. Pokhrel said the students were fighting over a room the ANNISU-R had been using as its office. Following the incident, the NSU activists disrupted traffic in front of all major colleges in the valley.

In Bhaktapur, the NSU protest turned ugly with 14 persons, including three Young Communist League and 11 NSU cadres, getting injured as the activists of the two student bodies clashed at Gatthaghar.

President of YCL Bhaktapur district committee Deepshikha said they were forced to retaliate after NSU members attacked their office at Gatthaghar. NSU chief secretary Indra Karki said NSU would organise a two-hour chakkajam in front of the valley colleges tomorrow morning. Deepshikha said the YCL is preparing to call Bhaktapur bandh tomorrow to protest the NSU attack.