Former speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara has been acquitted in the attempt to rape case on Monday after the complainant claimed that he did not come to her apartment that day.
The bench of Justice Amar Raj Paudel at the Kathmandu District Court has acquitted Mahara, registrar at the court Ananda Shrestha confirmed with Setopati. "He has been acquitted," Shrestha stated.
Mahara has been acquitted after federal parliament secretariat staffer Roshni Shahi told the court that Mahara did not come to her apartment that day. Mahara had also denied that he went to the apartment that day. "The court deems that defendant Krishna Bahadur Mahara has to be acquitted as the complainant during the statement proves that he did not go to the apartment," Mahara's lawyer Murari Sapkota quoted the court's verdict as saying.
Mahara has reached Dilli Bazar Jail immediately after acquittal. He will be released after the jail received the formal letter of acquittal.
Mahara had resigned from the post of speaker after the allegations following pressure from CPN leadership but had not resigned as lawmaker and was suspended when the case was sub judice. He will continue to serve as House of Representatives (HoR) member after his acquittal.
Mahara had earlier appealed against the Kathmandu District Court order to send him to prison for judicial custody.
But the Patan High Court on December 20, 2019 endorsed the decision of Kathmandu District Court stating Mahara cannot be released on the basis of available evidence, and instructed the district court to conclude the case within a month.
The Kathmandu District Court on November 4, 2019 had sent Mahara to prison during the course of case deeming that he seems to have attempted to rape Shahi.
Mahara was arrested on October 6 on charge of attempting to rape federal parliament secretariat staffer Roshni Shahi at her rented apartment on September 29.
Recording of Mahara's statement was completed on November 1. He has claimed that he reached near Shahi's apartment that evening but did not meet the victim.
Shahi had claimed an inebriated Mahara reached her rented apartment in Tinkune with a bottle of whiskey when there was no one else in the apartment and raped her.
She had called the police within an hour of the alleged incident and a team from Metropolitan Police Circle, New Baneshwore had immediately reached her rented apartment in Tinkune and recorded details from her.
The video statement recorded by the police at the site of incident that night was considered the strongest evidence in the charge-sheet filed with the court.
Shahi claimed, in the video interview given to journalist Ajay Babu Shiwakoti the next day, that Mahara hurriedly went out after she threatened to complain to police.
The police had recovered broken spectacles and insole of shoe from Shahi's apartment on the night of incident. Tests had showed the power of recovered spectacles was similar to that used by Mahara. This was the second strongest evidence against Mahara.