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UK grants bail to Nepali colonel accused of war-time torture
Publication Date : 04-03-2013
A court in the UK has granted bail to Nepal Army Colonel Kumar Lama who was held in Britain since January under the universal jurisdiction for charges of torture committed during the armed conflict in Nepal.
Responding to an appeal filed by the Nepali side, a judge at Chelmsford Crown Court, Essex on Friday evening decided that Lama can be freed after paying a bail of £10,000 (US$15,036). Sources, however, said the upcoming plea and case management hearing scheduled for May 10 and a trial scheduled for June 5 at Kingston Crown Court in South West London would be defining moments of the case.
The May 10 hearing will see whether Lama would plead guilty and set dates for completing various procedures up to the trial. In its verdict on Friday evening, the Chelmsford Crown Court has set strict conditions for Lama including not contacting directly or indirectly the complaints and witnesses and no travel permission outside the UK, among others.
According to a source in the UK, an electronic tagging with a device monitored by a security firm has been put into place to track his movements. The Nepali government also has to commit that it will not issue any new travel documents to Lama until the final verdict in the case.
Lama has been asked to report to police on a regular basis and practice a ‘home curfew’ from 10 pm till 7 am. “The bail conditions set by the court are extremely severe in totality. The placing of such stringent conditions is very rare and unusual,” said a UK based source. “This indicates how seriously the UK considers the charges against him.”
Col Lama was arrested by the UK’s Metropolitan Police from his home based in St Leonards-on-Sea near Hastlings in January 3 on allegations relating to the two counts of torture committed by him between April and October 2005 at the Gorusinghe Army Barracks in Kapilvastu, Nepal. The Central Criminal Court in Old Bailey earlier had denied the bail and remanded him in custody at the Belmarsh prison in Greenwich.