The International Federation of
Journalists (IFJ) is encouraged to learn of a district court verdict in Nepal on
May 30, sentencing Mainejar Giri and Ramekbal Sahani to life terms in prison
for the murder of journalist Birendra Sah.
Sah, a news reporter with the
Avenues TV channel based in the district of Bara in Central
Nepal, was abducted allegedly by Maoist cadre on October
5, 2007. His body was discovered in November 2007 in a forested region in the
district, which is part of the troubled terai region (the southern plains) of
At the time of his death Sah was a
central executive committee member of the Press Chautari, one of the major national
unions of Nepali journalists, and a constituent unit of IFJ affiliate the Federation
of Nepali Journalists (FNJ).
Giri and Sahani, both reportedly
members of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal – Maoist (UCPN-M), were
arrested shortly afterwards and almost immediately suspended from their
membership of the party. The UCPN-M was in the process of cementing a peace
agreement with other political formations in Nepal at the time.
There were suspicions that the two
suspects continued to enjoy the patronage of the Maoist leadership, especially
after the party emerged as the largest force in Nepal’s Constituent Assembly
elections in April 2008, taking up the reins of government shortly afterwards.
Three other suspects in the murder, Lal
Bahadur Chaudhary, Hareram
Patel and Kundan Fouzdar, have been declared as absconders from the law and are
reported to still work for the UCPN-M, despite their suspension from the party,
the FNJ reports.
“The IFJ welcomes the convictions
handed down to Giri and Sahani by the Bara district court, and hopes that the
absconding suspects will soon also be brought to justice,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.
“This is a serious affirmation of
respect for the rule of law and a positive step in safeguarding media freedom
and other civil liberties”.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +61 2 9333 0919
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