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Nepal 30 July 2003

Weekly’s editor murdered in Kathmandu

Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières) today urged the government to pursue efforts to identify those responsible for the 27 July abduction and murder of Amar Lama, the managing editor of the news weekly Tajakhabar (Fresh News), and to establish their motives. Lama was also a businessman and singer, and a member of the opposition Nepali Congress party.

In a letter to Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa, who is also interior minister, the organisation said it welcomed the creation of a commission of enquiry and the arrest of three suspects, but it urged him to "make real resources available to the investigators in order to determine whether Amar Lama’s murder was linked to his work as a journalist."

Lama was kidnapped by three individuals when he went to his newspaper’s office to hand in an article. They introduced themselves as police offices who wanted to talk to him. Lama tried to escape and a chase ensued in the streets of the Kalikasthan district of the capital. When the three assailants caught Lama, they beat him and took him away in a tax. His body was found with a bullet in the head an hour later in Kirtipur, 10 km south of Kathmandu. Two women who witnessed the scene said one of the killers made a call on his mobile to say "the job is done."

Dataram Adhikari, the taxi driver who drove the three men before and after Lama’s abduction, surrendered himself to the police the next day. He said he had no links with the killers. A few hours later, police arrested three suspects including Binita Shrestha, a former business associate of Lama. Lama’s wife told police that Lama had received threats from Shrestha.

The same day, the government put judge Madav Lal Shrestha in charge of the investigation. He is supposed to submit a report in two weeks.

Lama is known in Nepal for being the driver of two historic leaders of the far-left CPN-UML party when they were killed in an accident in 1993. The CPN-UML blamed Lama for their deaths and he served a five-year prison sentence. He had been a member of the Nepali Congress ever since his release and recently took over the running of Tajakhabar.

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