KATHMANDU, Jan 4: A Nepal Army (NA) officer has been arrested in the UK on suspicion of involvement in torture during the decade-long Maoist conflict in Nepal.
Multiple sources confirmed that police from a specialist unit of the Metropolitan Police Service arrested NA Colonel Kumar Lama in St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex on Thursday. Lama is suspected of torturing a detainee in Nepal in 2005, when the Maoist insurgency was at its peak.
Lama had reached the UK some two weeks ago after completing his term with the United Nations Peace Keeping Mission in Sudan, to meet his wife, who lives there.
In a statement, Metropolitan Police said the man remains in custody in Sussex. Officers are conducting searches at the address where he was arrested at 7:19 GMT, BBC reported.
The investigation is linked to very serious allegations of torture made by an individual who is in contact with human rights campaigners in Nepal and a law firm in London, the BBC further said.
The UK Embassy in Kathmandu confirmed the arrest. “The UK has universal jurisdiction over the most serious of international crimes including the crime of torture,” said a spokesperson. Genocide, torture, war crimes, crime against humanity and disappearances are regarded as international crimes.
´Universal jurisdiction´ permits the UK to arrest and prosecute people accused of human rights abuses committed overseas, even if the crime is not connected to events in the UK.
´Universal jurisdiction´ is invoked to punish those guilty of international crimes when the government concerned is unwilling or unable to take action against those guilty of such crimes, said human rights lawyer Gobinda Bandi.
Meanwhile, the victim has welcomed the arrest. “Although torture is not a criminal offense in Nepal, the victim hopes the British legal system will deliver justice in accordance with international treaties which criminalizes torture wherever it occurs in the world,” said a statement issued by the law firm Hickman and Rose on behalf of the victim.
Menawhile also, NA Spokesperson Brigadier Suresh Sharma said they are yet to get official information about the arrest.