Hearing to take weeks to start

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KATHMANDU, APR 05 – A day after the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority dragged 23 high-ranking officials to court on the charge of corruption, officials at the Special Court said it would take at least one month for preliminary hearing to begin.

The court will have to start from base as the anti-graft body did not produce the accused before the court while filing the case on Friday.

The court has to issue a notice to all those accused of misappropriating funds at Nepal Tourism Board and others aiding in the process to appear before the court, asking them to defend the charges within 15 days of receiving the court letter.

Many refuse to receive the letter with the intent of buying more time. The court has to record statements from those accused in corruption before starting preliminary hearing.

Court officials have criticised the commission for not producing the accused while filing the case. “Except for suspended NTB chief Subas Nirola many sitting government officials were working at their respective offices while filing the case. We don’t know why the CIAA did not produce them in person while filing the case,” said Special Court Registrar Natibabu Lamichhane.

Legally, the corruption watchdog has to file a corruption case in the presence of those accused unless they are at large. The CIAA produced the accused in the past while filing cases against junior level officials.

CIAA officials said their bid to arrest the accused and produce them before the court had not been successful. “Efforts were made to produce them before the court while filing the case but we could not do so as the security personnel could not find them,” said Keshav Ghimire, assistant spokesperson for the CIAA.

On Friday, the CIAA had filed a corruption case against 23 including Nirola and

two sitting government secretaries—Sharad Chandra Poudel and Ranjan Krishna Aryal—on the charge of embezzling Rs340 million while in office.