Nepali PM Arrested for Not Appearing in Court

Police stormed the house of former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba (search) early Wednesday after he failed to appear before an anti-corruption commission as part of a crackdown by the royalist government that critics say is politically motivated.

About 50 policemen surrounded Deuba's home on the northern outskirts of the capital, Katmandu (search), just after midnight and asked him to surrender, said Jeevan Prem Shrestha, spokesman for Deuba's Nepali Congress Democratic.

When the ex-prime minister refused, they cut off electricity and telephone and broke into the house, forcibly taking him into custody around 2 a.m. local time, Shrestha said.

Deuba's government was sacked in February by the king, who accused it of graft and failing to crush a communist insurgency. After firing the government, the monarch seized power and imposed emergency rule — moves condemned by foreign governments.

The former prime minister was being held at a police training camp in Katmandu, he said.

Deuba was summoned last week by the Royal Commission for Corruption Control, which was set up by King Gyanendra (search) after taking over power in February.

The commission wanted to question him about his government's decision on a road building contract in which corruption was suspected. He refused to go, saying the commission was an illegally constituted body.

Seven former ministers in Deuba's government have already been either detained or released on separate corruption charges by the commission. Six of them are being investigated for allegedly distributing US$56,000 to their supporters.

The politicians have denied the allegations, which they say are aimed at undermining the king's potential rivals for leadership.