Nepalese colonel to face trial in June on torture charges

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A NEPALESE army officer accused of torturing two rebels during the country’s civil war will face trial in June .

Colonel Kumar Lama, 46, of St Peter’s Road, St Leonards,

was remanded into custody when he appeared at the Old Bailey yesterday.

He is accused of inflicting ‘severe pain or suffering’ on Janak Bahadur Raut and Karam Hussain.

It is thought to be only the second time a torture offence alleged to have been commited in another country has been prosecuted in the UK.

The offences are said to have taken place between April 15 2005 and October 31, 2005, at the Gorusinghe Army Barracks in Kapilvastu.

Lama, who has served in the Nepalese Army since 1984, was in charge of the barracks during the decade-long conflict in the Himalayan state.

The officer, who has indefinite leave to remain in the UK, was arrested earlier this month and appeared via videolink from Belmarsh prison in southeast London.

Bespectacled and dressed in a brown jumper, he spoke only to confirm he could understand proceedings during a brief hearing before Mr Justice Fulford.

A provisional trial date for June 5 was set at Kingston Crown Court. An application for bail wasrefused.

Lama was arrested under section 134(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, which allows prosecution of alleged war criminals in the UK under ‘universal jurisdiction’.

He had been serving as a UN peacekeeper in South Sudan and had been due to return to Africa today after spending Christmas in East Sussex with his wife, a nurse, and two children, aged 17 and 21.

The Nepalese Civil War saw Communist rebels attempt to overthrow the country’s monarchy leaving an estimated 16,000 people dead between 1996 and2006.

Afghan warlord Faryadi Zardad was the first to be convicted in UK of torture in 2005. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.