Nepali Army Officer Faces Torture Charges

A Nepali army officer has been in remanded in custody charged with two counts of torture after being arrested in the UK.

Colonel Kumar Lama, 46, of St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, is accused of inflicting severe pain or suffering when he was acting in an official capacity.

The offences are said to have taken place between April 15, 2005 and May 1, 2005, and April 15, 2005 and October 31, 2005 at the Gorusinghe Army Barracks at Kapilvastu, Nepal.

The offences are alleged to have taken place as the then-government fought a decade-long Maoist insurgency.

Lama was arrested under a law which allows the prosecution of suspected torturers, even if the alleged offence has no connection to the UK.

At Westminster Magistrates Court, Judge Quentin Purdy ruled that Lama would be held in custody as there was risk he would leave the country if released.He will appear at the Old Bailey on January 24.

Lama is serving as a military observer with the UN Mission in South Sudan but had been spending Christmas in Britain when he was arrested, the court heard.

His wife and two children, aged 21 and 17, live in the UK.

The British ambassador in Kathmandu was summoned by Nepal's government in protest over the officer's arrest.

Nepal's deputy prime minister Narayankaji Shrestha said the government had demanded the immediate release of Col Lama and had instructed its embassy in London to submit a protest note to the British government.

Two diplomats from the Nepalese embassy were in court for the short hearing.