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Supreme Court justice shot dead in capital

Daylight attack by assailants on motorbike comes amid widening political tension

Police at the scene of the shooting today in Kathmandu Police at the scene of the shooting today in Kathmandu
  • Chirendra Satyal, Kathmandu
  • Nepal
  • June 1, 2012
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A Supreme Court justice was shot and killed in the capital yesterday in a daylight attack during morning rush hour traffic.

Judge Rana Bahadur Bam was shot six times when unidentified gunmen on a motorbike stopped his car and opened fire, Superintendent of Metropolitan Police Rabi Raj Shrestha said in a press statement.

“He and a security guard were returning from Bagalamukhi temple. A motorbike blocked their way.”

Bam died after being admitted to Norvic International Hospital. His bodyguard and a companion were also injured in the attack. The driver was unharmed and is in police custody for questioning.

“The driver is the main witness so we are giving him protection by keeping him under our care,” Shrestha told ucanews.com today.

“We found seven casings at the scene and possibly the motorbike used – a motorbike with a fake number was found abandoned not very far away. A special high-level committee of police has been formed and security vigilance has been stepped up."

The shooting comes amid ongoing political tensions and follows the dismissal of a deadlocked Constituent Assembly that after four years has failed to deliver a draft constitution.

Caretaker Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai assured reporters outside the hospital that justice would be served and appealed to the public to remain calm.

“The Nepal government will find the criminal. I urge all Nepalis not to be filled with terror.”

Bhattarai attended the cremation of Bam with state honors today, along with President Ram Baran Yadav.

Bam, appointed four years ago, was the subject of a Judicial Council investigation into allegations that he accepted bribes in return for lenient sentencing in three abduction cases, according to a report by the Himalayan Times.

Impeachment proceedings began in 2009, but Bam has maintained his innocence in the case, claiming that his accusers were engaged in a personal vendetta, according to local media reports.

Investigators found leaflets at the scene of the shooting signed by a previously unknown group called the “NepalBad” (or, Pro-Nepal) Party, said police spokesman Rabi Raj Shrestha.

Bearing the signature of Amar Nepal, the leaflets warned that the group would “finish off corrupt judges, government employees, political leaders, NGOs/INGOs, and others.”

A construction worker at a building site near the scene of the shooting said he and fellow workers witnessed the attack.

“It happened so fast while we were busy with work...even the driver who survived was so shaken up he told the police that it was a black motorbike, whereas it was clearly red. We told the police everything,” said the worker, who asked not to be named out of fear for his safety.

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