UK

Kumar Lama: British police charge Nepali army colonel with two counts of torture during Himalayan civil war

  • Kumar Lama arrested by Met Police in St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex
  • Nepal summoned British ambassador to express its 'strong objection'

By Leon Watson

PUBLISHED: 03:53 EST, 5 January 2013 | UPDATED: 07:48 EST, 5 January 2013

A Nepali army officer is due to appear in court today charged with two counts of torture during the Himalayan nation's decade-long civil war.

Kumar Lama, 46, of St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, is accused of inflicting severe pain or suffering when he was acting in an official capacity.

He will appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London.

(File picture) Met Police have arrested a Nepali army officer accused of torture during the Himalayan nation's decade-long civil war

(File picture) Met Police have arrested a Nepali army officer accused of torture during the Himalayan nation's decade-long civil war

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.

These time periods fall within the Himalayan's nation's decade-long Maoist insurgency.

Rights groups accuse both the security forces and former Maoist rebels of committing abuses including torture during the conflict that killed more than 16,000 people.

The Maoists ended the conflict in 2006 under a peace deal with the government, won elections four years ago and are now heading a coalition ruling the young Himalayan republic.

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 Col Lama.

Nepali army officer Kumar Lama, 46, was arrested in St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, and accused of two counts of torture

Nepali army officer Kumar Lama, 46, was arrested in St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, and accused of two counts of torture

Colonel Lama is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court (pictured) accused of inflicting severe pain or suffering when he was acting in an official capacity

Colonel Lama is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court (pictured) accused of inflicting severe pain or suffering when he was acting in an official capacity

'We express strong objection to this mistake and urge that it be corrected ... and Lama be released,' he said in Kathmandu.

Nepal summoned the British ambassador yesterday to express its 'strong objection' to Col Lama's detention.

Nepali officials said Col Lama is serving as a military observer under the UN Mission in Southern Sudan and was on a holiday in London.

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

Human Rights Watch said the arrest sent a warning to those accused of serious crimes that they cannot hide from the law.

'The UK's move to arrest a Nepali army officer for torture during Nepal's brutal civil war is an important step in enforcing the U.N. Convention against Torture,' Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

By Staff 01/04/2013 23:48:00