Nepal court to rule on ‘Himalayan Viagra’ murders

Aug 11th, 2010 | By admin | Category: Featured

Local authorities say police had to walk for days to reach the area, where they discovered the bodies of the seven men.

Police initially arrested the entire village, but later released the women and children. Most of the men were charged with murder and held in the district capital, which can only be reached on foot and does not have its own judge.

The judge overseeing the case is from a neighbouring district and Wednesday will mark his first appearance in the court. Witness statements have been transcribed by a registrar and sent to him.

Rights groups including the OHCHR have expressed their concerns about the fairness of the trial and Krishna Thapa, the sole defence lawyer in the case, told AFP he had not even been allowed to speak to the defendants.

“The villagers have had no opportunity to give their side of the story. They do not speak Nepalese and they do not understand what is happening,” he said.

“The defendants are not going to get justice. I don’t know what this will lead to — this is a whole village we are talking about.”

Nepal’s Himalayan communities are ethnically closer to Tibetans than to their compatriots, speak their own language and practise Buddhism rather than Hinduism, the predominant religion of Nepal.

They have historically had little contact with Nepal’s state institutions and most are overseen by village leaders who settle local disputes. In the past, even murders have gone unprosecuted by the judiciary.

Sociology professor Krishna B Bhattachan said the defendants might not even understand why they were being prosecuted.

“They grow up in isolation, so nothing matters more than their own village,” he told AFP. “If there is a problem, they go to their village chief, not to the police station or a court.

“The fact that the whole village was implicated at first just proves how tight-knit and protected the community is — this was a shared act, and there is no individual guilt.”

© 2010 AFP

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