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Nepal keeps terror tag on Maoist guerrillas

Outlawed as terrorists in 2003, Maoists will continue to be branded as such with the apex court striking down a plea by a sympathiser.
None | By Indo-Asian News Service, Kathmandu
PUBLISHED ON MAR 24, 2006 12:37 PM IST

Nepal's Maoist guerrillas, outlawed as terrorists in 2003, will continue to be branded as such with the country's apex court striking down a plea by a sympathiser that the tag be withdrawn.

A bench of the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Maoists had not shown any signs that they were a political party and not terrorists and would continue to be regarded as such.

The decision came even as the rebels opened fire in a crowded bus station in Bara district in southern Nepal, killing a policeman and injuring two civilians.

In a separate case, the court ruled that a controversial and draconian ordinance issued by King Gyanendra last year, allowing the state to detain any suspect for a year without starting legal proceedings, would stay.

The Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Control and Punishment) Act, clamped by the government in 2003 after peace talks broke down between the state and the Maoists, ran out of time last year.

However, Gyanendra, who last year seized power with the help of the army, gave fresh lease of life to the much-criticised law by issuing a royal ordinance.

When the ordinance was challenged in court as being unconstitutional, a bench of three Supreme Court judges Thursday said the state had the power to take under preventive detention anyone suspected of being a threat to national sovereignty and law and order.

However, the decision is expected to be the subject of fresh controversy with two of the judges okaying the ordinance but the third dissenting.

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