Fri, Nov 16, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Nepalese police arrest 25 journalists

'FIND THE KILLERS' The reporters, who gathered outside ministry buildings, have not been charged but remain in custody because they were protesting in a restricted area


Nepalese police detained 25 protesting journalists who were demanding that the government find and punish three former rebels who allegedly killed a reporter.

The journalists gathered outside the offices of the prime minister and key ministries, shouting: "We want justice. Find the killers. Home minister resign," as they held up pictures of slain journalist Birendra Shah.

Shah was abducted on Oct. 5 while on a reporting trip. His body was dug up from a forested area near Bhaimathghat, a village about 160km south of Kathmandu last week.

Yubaraj Bidrohi of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists said police broke up the protest and detained 25 of them. They were being held at a police station in Kathmandu, he said.

A police official, who did not give his name because he was not authorized to give information to the media, said the journalists had not been charged, but that they were detained because they were protesting in a restricted and sensitive area.

It was not immediately clear when they would be freed.

The leaders of Nepal's former rebels, known as Maoists, said last week that three of their members were involved in Shah's death, but said the killing was not ordered by the leadership.

The three -- who remain on the run -- were kicked out of the Maoist political party.

Shah, who is a stringer for the Kathmandu-based Nepal FM news radio station and local newspapers, had written about the rebels' allegedly beating opponents and profiteering from timber smuggling.

Maoists have refused to comment on the allegations.

Shah's disappearance sparked widespread condemnation from parliament as well as street protests.

Last year, the Maoists gave up their decade-long armed revolt, which resulted in the deaths of at least 13,000 people.

During the insurgency, the rebels were known to frequently threaten, beat and kill journalists who wrote critical articles about them.

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