nepal-protest-AP-670
Nepalese police baton charge to disperse activists of Nepal's opposition parties during a demonstration against Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai in Kathmandu, May 30, 2012. Nepal sank into political turmoil after lawmakers failed to agree on a new constitution, leaving the country with no legal government. Nepal's opposition parties said they will team up to topple the government, as they accused the prime minister of having no moral or legal grounds to stay in power ahead of new elections. — Photo by AFP

KATHMANDU: Gunmen on a motorbike shot and killed a Nepalese Supreme Court judge under investigation for corruption on Thursday as he left a temple in the centre of the capital Kathmandu, police said.

Rana Bahadur Bam, 64, was being investigated by the Judiciary Council on allegations of taking bribes to hand softer sentences to criminals.

“He and a security guard were returning from Bagalamukhi temple. A motorbike blocked their way and there was gunfire at 11:08 am,” said Kathmandu police spokesman Rabi Raj Shrestha, adding that Bam's bodyguard was injured in the attack.

“He succumbed to multiple bullet wounds in his armpit. We will interrogate the (judge's) driver to find out more,” said Shrestha.

The shooting punctured an uneasy peace in the capital, days after Nepal's Constituent Assembly, which had been hearing the case for Bam's impeachment, disbanded having failed to agree on a new constitution.

The attack came as thousands of police patrolled the streets while feuding political factions vie for power in the troubled Himalayan nation, which has no legislature and only a caretaker government ahead of elections in November.

Following the shooting the judge was rushed to the Norvick Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

A pamphlet from a previously unknown group calling itself the Nepal Vad Party was found at the scene, in the capital's Lalitpur district, Shrestha added.

Caretaker prime minister Baburam Bhattarai and Chief Justice Khila Raj Regmi visited the judge in hospital before he died but neither has yet made a statement about the shooting.


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