District court finds man guilty in the death of transwoman

Kathmandu (Pahichan) June 3 – The Kathmandu District Court has found Bidesh Karki guilty of involuntary culpable homicide in the killing of Junu Gurung, a transwoman. A single bench of Judge Mohanraj Bhattarai issued the verdict on Sunday evening after a final hearing on the case earlier in the day.

Prosecutors had charged Karki, 21, with voluntary culpable homicide under Section 178 of the Criminal Code. Although Karki was convicted on a lesser charge, the victim’s family said they were satisfied with the court’s decision.

“We are happy with the decision,” Sujan Gurung, the victim’s brother, told . “Although we wanted him to serve a life sentence, we still feel like we got justice today.”

The defence had argued for a lesser charge under Section 182-death due to negligence, which carries a maximum sentence of two years. For involuntary culpable homicide, Karki now faces between 10 to 15 years in prison.

Junu, 31, was found dead in her Lazimpat apartment on March 10. Her friends and family believe she died from injuries sustained during a fight with Karki.

The two lived in the same neighborhood and were said to have known each other. After Junu’s death, witnesses told representatives at the Blue Diamond Society, an organisation working for the LGBTIQ community, that Karki had beaten her “black and blue” following an altercation near a local eatery in Lazimpat two days prior to her death.

Karki had himself admitted to assaulting Junu in his statement to the police. According to him, on the evening of March 8, he heard Junu shouting obscenities on the street. When he asked her to stop, she abused him and pushed him, he said.

“I then slapped her and she fell,” Karki had recounted to the police. “I kicked her twice on her face and eyes, and she started bleeding from her nose.”

But he later changed his statement in his court testimony, saying he only pushed her and that he “did not kick or slap her”.

According to the victim’s friends, this was not the first time Karki had physically assaulted Junu.

“The two had had disagreements before too,” Sunita Lama, a friend of the victim, said in her testimony to the court. “She told me that he used to snatch her money and hit her.”

In his statement to the court, Sudeep Gautam, a friend of the victim and human rights officer at the Blue Diamond Society, said he hadn’t witnessed the incident in question but had seen the accused hit the victim on previous occasions.

“I didn’t see him beating her on March 8, but I did see him hit her on other occasions,” said Gautam, according to the court documents. “I heard from other people that he was the one who beat her that night. Because the victim was my friend, I know that the suspect used to bully her and threaten her. I used to tell her don’t worry, you don’t do anything wrong, and you’ll be fine.”

Junu’s family had been nervously awaiting the court’s verdict, as the final autopsy report had failed to ascertain the cause of death.

While the report makes note of more than a dozen injuries and wounds on her body, it mentions the cause of her death as “undetermined.”

In March, hospital authorities had told the family that Junu had a “broken nose bridge, blood clot in one eye due to swelling” and “injuries on the head”-telltale signs of a violent beating, but said preliminary examination proved inconclusive.

Born Jiwan Gurung, the 31-year-old from Lumle in Pokhara came out as third gender over a decade ago.

Junu’s death had shocked the trans community and many had begun to question their own safety following her death. Sunday’s decision came as a relief to many.

“Finally, justice has been served,” said Pinky Gurung, president of the Blue Diamond Society, which helped provide lawyers for the case. “This is a historic day. It’s the first time that the court has decided to punish someone for killing a trans person.”

Source : The Kathmandu Post

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