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Nepal 21 October 2002

Policeman involved in Krishna Sen murder gets "policeman of the year" award

Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières) expressed outrage today at the award by Crown Prince Paras Bir Bikram Shah of a "policeman of the year" title to chief of city police Bikram Singh Thapa, who was reportedly involved in the death by torture earlier this year of pro-Maoist newspaper editor Krishna Sen.

"This reward to a torturer is disgusting," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard in a letter to Nepal’s new prime minister, Lokendra Bahadur Chand.  "What hope is there of justice being done if the authorities have such contempt for human rights?  Impunity and policy violence have become a state institution in Nepal."

He called for the award, presented to the officer on 16 October (Police Day) for his "professionalism" and "courage" for having put his life on the line throughout his career, to be withdrawn. He also demanded a new investigation into the disappearance and presumed death of Sen.

The award set off arguments, some of them in the home ministry, a sign that suspicions hang over the police chief’s role in the case.

A 15 October report by the Damocles Network and Reporters Without Borders concluded that Sen probably died while being tortured on 28 May, eight days after he had been arrested, in an interrogation room at Kathmandu’s Mahendra Police Club and that the city police chief was present.

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