Sussex man appears in court over Nepal torture claims

 

A Nepalese army officer appeared in court today charged with two counts of torture.

Colonel Kumar Lama, 46, of St Peters Road, Hastings, is accused of inflicting severe pain or suffering when he was acting in an official capacity.

Lama, who has indefinite leave to remain in the UK, spoke only to confirm his identity when he appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court.

He is currently serving as a UN peacekeeper in South Sudan and had been due to return to Africa today after spending Christmas in East Sussex, the court heard.

The offences are said to have taken place between April 15 2005 and May 1 2005, and April 15 2005 and October 31 2005, at the Gorusinghe Army Barracks, Kapilvastu, Nepal.

Lama, who has served in the Nepalese Army since 1984, was in charge of the barracks at the time, during the Himalayan nation's decade-long Maoist insurgency, the court was told.

The charges relate to two men, Janak Bahadur Raut and Karam Hussain, and were brought under Section 134 (sub section 1) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988.

The court heard that Attorney General Dominic Grieve gave permission for the charges to be brought yesterday.

The government of Nepal summoned the British ambassador in Kathmandu to protest over the officer's arrest.

Deputy prime minister Narayankaji Shrestha told reporters that the government had demanded the immediate release of Lama, while Nepal also instructed its embassy in London to submit a protest note to the British government.

Two diplomats from the Nepalese embassy were in court for the short hearing.

Scotland Yard said the arrest did not take place at the request of Nepali authorities.

The court heard his wife is a nurse and they have two children, a 21-year-old university student and a 17-year-old A-Level student.

Lama previously served as a UN peacekeeper in Sierra Leone and twice in Lebanon, the court heard.

He was remanded in custody by District Judge Quentin Purdy to appear at the Old Bailey on January 24.

PA

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