The Special Court on Thursday acquitted five former footballers accused of match-fixing in Nepal’s international matches.
A three-member bench of Justices Baburam Regmi, Pramod Kumar Shrestha and Narayan Prasad Pokharel gave a clean chit to former national team captain Sagar Thapa, along with his deputy Sandeep Rai, goalkeeper Ritesh Thapa, defender Bikash Singh Chhetri and former player turned coach Anjan KC.
The footballers were arrested on October 14, 2015, following a yearlong investigation in collaboration with Sportsradar Security Service, Asian Football Confederation and Nepal Police. The investigation concluded the five had taken hefty amounts from international bookies to manipulate the results during Nepal’s international games from 2008 to 2012.
All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) suspended them on October 15. The game’s governing body in the country announced that the accused players and coach would be barred from all football-related activities. And on December 4, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) imposed a life ban on the footballers.
Earlier, the Office of Attorney General had registered a case at the Special Court seeking a life imprisonment against the accused players under the Crime against State and Punishment Act-1989.
After a hearing in November 10, 2015, the Special Court released them on bail. The court had demanded bail amount of Rs 500,000 each from KC and Ritesh Thapa; Rs150,000 from Sagar Thapa, Rs50,000 each from Rai and Singh.
A division bench chaired by Mohan Raman Bhattarai and comprising Justices Bhupendra Prasad Rai and Mahesh Prasad Pudasaini issued the order after a hearing on the treason charges filed against the four national players and the coach.