Nepal jails 'Himalayan Viagra' killers
Kathmandu - A court in Nepal has convicted 19 villagers over the murder of a group of farmers during a fight over a prized aphrodisiac plant dubbed the "Himalayan Viagra", an official said on Tuesday.
Seven farmers were killed in the remote northern district of Manang in June 2009 after going to forage for Yarchagumba, a rare parasitic plant that is a major source of income for many Himalayan communities.
The accused claimed the farmers died accidentally when a fight broke out over the right to harvest the plant, which is in particular demand in China where a kilogramme can fetch tens of thousands of dollars.
The valley near the border with China where the victims went missing in June 2009 is among the most remote parts of Nepal, and it was several weeks before authorities learned of the deaths.
"Six have been found guilty of murder," Shambhu Baral, a court registrar at Manang District Court told AFP, adding that they had been given 20-year sentences.
"A group of 13 have been sentenced to two years in jail, but they have already spent their time in custody," he added.
"Evidence showed that the six were directly involved in the murder while the rest had provided indirect help. Another 21 defendants have been declared innocent," he said.
The court, which is a two day walk from the nearest road, has had to delay the verdict more than a dozen times due to absent judges and lawyers.
Local authorities say police had to walk for days to reach the area where the bodies of the seven men were discovered.
They initially arrested the entire village, but later released the women and children.