Kathmandu, Jun 13 (EFE).- Nepal’s apex court on Tuesday issued a show cause order to CPN Maoist Center Chairman and Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, alias Prachanda, and former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, in a case related to using children in the violent armed struggle against the monarchy (1996-2006).
The bench led by Judge Sapna Malla Pradhan has ordered for priority to the case, and asked Dahal and Bhattarai to furnish written clarifications on the matter, Supreme Court spokesperson Bimal Poudel told EFE.
They have been given 15 days to submit the clarifications, he added.
On May 26, nine former child combatants led by Lenin Bista, the founding chair of the Discharged People’s Liberation Army, filed a petition demanding the prosecution of Prachanda, who was then the Maoist supreme commander, and his comrade Bhattarai.
The petitioners have claimed that the Maoist leaders had committed war crimes during the Maoist insurgency by recruiting minors in the armed conflict.
“We have demanded an investigation into the matter,” Bista told EFE.
“We are happy that the Supreme Court has recognised that minors were recruited in the armed conflict and ordered to give priority to our case,” he said.
“We have a demand to suspend Dahal as prime minister until the investigation process ends,” Bista added, while claiming he was only 13 when he joined the Maoist army.
The government and the Maoists signed a comprehensive peace accord in November 2006 after a ceasefire on May 26, 2006.
Nepal’s rebel military was then integrated into the Nepali Army. In April 2012, the Nepal Army took final control over the People’s Liberation Army, the armed wing of the CPN (Maoist) as per the agreement to integrate 10,000 Maoist fighters into the Nepal Army.
Among the 4,008 combatants who did not qualify for integration, 2,973 were verified as minors, while the remaining 1,035 had joined the Maoist ‘People’s Liberation Army’.
The government had provided between $3,800 and $6,000 each to the combatants who chose voluntary retirement.
However, those who were disqualified didn’t get any substantial support, except for a few thousand rupees from the United Nations, said Bista.
More than 17,000 people were killed during the conflict. EFE