Nepal furious over British arrest of army colonel

January 05, 2013 - 2:05:22 am

KATHMANDU: Nepal’s foreign minister yesterday expressed “strong objections” to the arrest of a Nepalese army colonel by British police over allegations of torture committed during the Himalayan nation’s civil war.

Foreign Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha named the arrested man as 46-year-old Colonel Kumar Lama, who was taken into custody by British police on Thursday, and called on the British government to release him. 

“The arrest of Lama, who has been serving in the United Nations mission in Sudan, without informing the concerned government and without any evidence, is against the general principle of international law and jurisdiction of a sovereign country,” said Shrestha. 

“We have expressed strong objections to this act. Nepal Army personnel would be punished according to their own internal committee. And we are committed to punish anyone who has violated human rights,” Shrestha told reporters. 

“This act has hurt our attempt to ensure a long-lasting peace. We are going through a transitional phase and are committed to completing the peace process. We have urged the British government to release him immediately,” Shrestha said.

According to a foreign ministry press statement, the acting secretary of the ministry yesterday called on the British ambassador and submitted a “protest note” requesting the release of Lama. 

Nepalese newspaper The Kathmandu Post reported that Lama was accused of torturing a detainee while he headed a barracks in the south in 2005.

Lama, believed to be in Britain to meet his wife who works as a nurse, was arrested under British law which allows prosecutors to act against people suspected of torture no matter where it took place in the world.