Sussex

Nepal torture charge colonel Kumar Lama cleared

Kumar Lama Image copyright PA
Image caption Kumar Lama was arrested while on leave in the UK from his posting as a UN peacekeeper

The case of a UK-based Nepalese colonel accused of torture in his home country 11 years ago has collapsed after costing an estimated £1m.

Kumar Lama, 49, from St Leonards, East Sussex, had faced an Old Bailey retrial after being cleared by a jury earlier this year of one charge of torture.

The Crown told the court it believed there was no realistic prospect of conviction on a second charge.

Mr Justice Sweeney formally acquitted Col Lama.

First trial abandoned

The decision not to go ahead with the retrial was made because of inconsistencies in evidence, the court heard.

It had been alleged Col Lama ordered the torture of two detainees held at the Nepalese Army barracks.

He was arrested in January 2013 while on leave in the UK from his posting as a UN peacekeeper in South Sudan.

Charges were brought under section 134 of the Criminal Justice Act, which allows suspects to face trial before a British court even if their alleged offences are committed abroad and they are not UK citizens.

The original trial last year had to be abandoned because of difficulty finding Nepalese interpreters.

'Unacceptable delays'

Col Lama's solicitor Jonathan Grimes, said his client had always maintained he never ordered or was complicit in torture.

"The past three-and-a-half years has been an extremely frustrating and stressful period for Colonel Lama and his family," he said.

"There have been unacceptable delays in bringing this case to a conclusion.

"I hope that the CPS will reflect carefully on its selection and management of this case and will learn lessons for the future."

A CPS spokesman said: "This was an unusual and challenging case and we respect the decision of the jury.

"We will not be seeking a retrial having considered the developments at the trial."

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