Maina Sunuwar Updates and Facts by Advocacy Forum, Nepal Army (NA) did not hand over Major Basnet

Maina Sunuwar Updates and Facts by Advocacy Forum

December 13 2009

Nepal Army (NA) did not hand over army Major Niranjan Basnet, one of the accused in the murder of Maina Sunuwar, to Kavre Distric Police/ Court today as promised. This has raised suspicion on the intention of the NA and Nepal government as Major Basnet was not arrested for long time despite court's order. Instead, he was protected by NA. Advocacy Forum, therefore, urges government to immediately handover army Major Niranjan Basnet, one of the accused in the murder of Maina Sunuwar, to Kavre District Police/ Court. 


As existing Nepalese law grants power of criminal investigation to Nepal Police,   Nepal army has no legal authority to hold any accused into its custody. Adherence to law and court order demands and obliges Nepal army to suspend and hand over the accused to police authority so that the accused can be produced to the court issuing warrant of arrest.


Deployed by the Nepal Army with the UN Peace Keeping Mission in one of the African Countries 'Chad', Major Niranjan Basnet was repatriated by the UN due to the revelation of his alleged involvement in the Maina case. Major Basnet was taken under Nepal Army's control from the Tribhuwan Airport Kathmandu upon his arrival on 12 December, 2009 and is being detained by Nepal army.


The District Court of Kavre has already issued arrest warrant against the four accused including Major Niranjan Basnet on 31 January 2008. District Court of Kavre on 13 September 2009 ordered the Nepal Army to suspend Major Niranjan Basnet in accordance with Section 66 (3) of Army Act 2063.

Despite the arrest and suspension order of Kavre District Court, the accused continued in his service with full protection from Nepal Army. Instead of giving effect to court's orders, he was deployed to UN Mission in


Now, upon his repatriation from the mission, Nepal army's implied denial to hand over the accused to Nepal Police draws suspicion.  It is an opportunity for Nepal army to prove its loyalty to rule of law and human rights by strict observance of Nepalese Criminal Law.


The chronology of the Maina Sunuwar case is included in annex 1 below.


Annex I: Chronology


17 February 2004: About 15 Royal Nepal Army personnel, including Captain Niranjan Basnet, visit Devi Sunuwar’s house. Not being able to find Devi, they arrest her 15-year-old daughter Maina and tell Devi’s husband that she would find her daughter at the Panchkhal Military Barracks (Kavrepalanchowk district).

18 February 2004: Devi Sunuwar, her husband and other villagers go to the Panchkhal Military Barracks. They are told that Maina has never been arrested.

20 February 2004: Devi Sunuwar goes to the District Police Office in Kavrepalanchowk district. Police officers deny Maina’s arrest and detention.

During the following months, Maina’s family inquires about her condition and whereabouts, visiting the District Administration Office, the District Police Office, the Panchhkal Military Barracks and other army camps, the Army headquarters and the then Chief of Army Staff. They obtain contradicting information.

Concerns raised by diplomatic representatives and various international and national organizations compel the Chief of Army Staff of the Nepal Army to constitute a Board of Inquiry to probe the incident.

14 March 2005: The Board of Inquiry submits its opinion.

As per the recommendation of the Board of Inquiry, the Nepal Army set up a General Military Court (court martial) under the chairmanship of Kiran Shamsher Thapa, Major General in 2005.

8 September 2005: The Court Martial finds that Niranjan Basnet and Sunil Prasad Adhikari prepared 'Operation Plan' and went to Maina's village in the morning at 4 0'clock and arrested Maina. The Court Martial also finds Army officers (Colonel Bobby Khatri, Captain Sunil Prasad Adhikari and Captain Amit Pun) guilty of using wrong interrogation techniques and of not following decent ways in the disposal of a dead body. The defendants are sentenced to six months imprisonment. However, as they have already spent six months confined to barracks during investigations, they are set free. The defendants are also ordered to pay money to Maina’s family as compensation.

13 November 2005: Not satisfied with the outcome of the army’s internal inquiry and trial, Maina’s family files a formal complaint (a First Information Report) with the Kavrepalanchowk police, against Colonel Bobby Khatri, Captain Sunil Prasad Adhikari, Captain Amit Pun and Captain Niranjan Basnet.

6 November 2006: The resignation of Sunil Prasad Adhikari from the Army is approved. At some point after this date, he leaves Nepal.

23 March 2007: With the help of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the police exhume Maina’s body from the premises of the Panchkhal Military Barracks.

20 September 2007: The Supreme Court issues mandamus to the District Police Office and the District Government Attorney to investigate Maina’s case within 3 months.

31 January 2008: The Kavre Public Prosecutor files murder charges before the Kavre District Court against army officers Bobi Khatri, Sunil Prasad Adhikari, Amit Pun, and Niranjan Basnet. The same day, the Kavre District Court issues arrest warrants against the accused.

13 September 2009: the District Court of Kavre orders:

(1) the Nepal Army to suspend the then Captain Niranjan Basnet (who has now been promoted to the post of Major) in accordance with Section 66 (3) of Army Act 2063.

(2) the Office of the District Government Attorney to produce the complainant and other people who were consulted during the investigation, so that the evidence can be examined according to law.

(3) the Nepal Army to produce the statements of the defendants and other Army staff (named in the judgment of the General Military Court).

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