Media Release: Nepal
June 1, 2011
Nepali Journalist Birendra Sah’s Killers Convicted
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 the country.
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”.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries
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