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SC serves show-cause notice to government on Dhungel amnesty bid

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KATHMANDU — The Supreme Court has served a show-cause notice to the government against the latter’s plan to offer amnesty to murder convict Balkrishna Dhungel.

A single bench of Justice Dipkumar Karki on Friday issued the order to the government demanding a written explanation within 15 days on why Dhungel should be pardoned.

The Supreme Court has also summoned several government authorities to attend the apex court on Sunday to participate in a hearing on whether or not to issue stay order against the government’s preparations to pardon jailed murder convict Dhungel.

The government authorities summoned by the court to explain why Dhungel should be pardoned include the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, the Office of President, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Department of Prison Management.

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Dhungel, a former lawmaker of the erstwhile CPN (Maoist Centre), is serving life sentence at Dillibazaar jail for murdering Ujjan Kumar Shrestha of Okhaldhunga on June 24, 1998. He was arrested from Lalitpur in October 2017.

The prison administration has recommended the government to waive his remaining jail term on the grounds of good conduct and his previous prison stints in the same case.

Claiming that the government was planning to free Dhungel by invoking Presidential Pardon on the Republic Day,senior advocate Dinesh Tripathi had filed a writ petition on Thursday against the government’s move.

Tripathi has named the President’s Office, Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet of Ministers, Home Ministry, Prison Management Department, District Administration Office, Kathmandu, and Balkrishna Dhungel as defendants in the petition.

This is not the first time the government has tried to release Dhungel from prison through Presidential Pardon. In November 2011, the government led by Baburam Bhattarai had also recommended Dhungel’s name for clemency.

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US to provide 4 Sky Trucks to Nepal Army

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KATHMANDU — The government of the United States is providing four Sky Trucks, light cargo and passenger aircraft, to the Nepal Army for rescue and disaster response efforts.

Two of the four Sky Trucks that will arrive in Kathmandu by 2020. Those two aircrafts will be newly manufactured while the rest will be refurbished aircraft.

The Army is running short of aircraft, with just around a dozen of heavy, medium, and light transport helicopters comprising its fleet.

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According to the US Embassy in Nepal, the value of the four aircraft is $35.5 million.

The US government had pledged the aid during an outgoing Chief of Army Staff Rajendra Chhetri’s visit to the United States in April 2016. The US government, during Chhetri’s visit to the US, had pledged to provide Nepal Army with four aircraft within two years.

During his farewell speech on August 8, Chhetri highlighted the US support as one of the significant achievements of his tenure.

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