KATHMANDU (AFP) – Nepal’s highest court on Tuesday jailed a former home minister for corruption in the latest in a series of high profile graft convictions of prominent public figures.
The Supreme Court handed Khum Bahadur Khadka an 18-month sentence and 9.5-million-rupee ($110,000) fine after he failed to account for a vast portfolio of property accrued while in office.
“We have reached the conclusion that the defendant’s source of income and the property he earned during the given period doesn’t match,” Kalyan Kumar Shrestha, one of two presiding judges, told reporters.
“He failed to verify the source of income for 9.47 million rupees. This shows if one commits crime, no matter how powerful, he (or) she will be convicted,” Shrestha said, adding that the authorities would confiscate property equivalent in value to the fine.
Khadka, 61, held a number of high-ranking posts, including home minister and local development minister, in the 1990s when the Nepali Congress, now in opposition, was in power.
Chiranjibi Wagle became the first former minister jailed for corruption last year, and in February information and communications minister Jaya Prakash Prasad Gupta was the first serving cabinet secretary to go to jail for graft.
Khadka, who started his political career in the 1970s with a student organisation connected to the Congress, has faced numerous accusations of misusing his office to suppress opposition.
After hearing about the verdict, a group of his supporters vandalised two privately-owned cars and two police vehicles and 16 were arrested for disorder, Kathmandu police spokesman Dhiraj Pratap Singh told AFP.
During the 2008 parliamentary elections Khadka ran for office in his home district of Dang in southern Nepal but withdrew after the Maoist party accused him of involvement in the killings of seven members in the run up to the polls.
He was never charged with any crime in connection with the deaths.