Nepal ruling parties assent to palace massacre probe

February 28th, 2009 - 3:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Feb 28 (IANS) Nepal’s ruling coalition headed by the Maoists Saturday agreed to institute a fresh probe into the nation’s darkest tragedy eight years ago in which king Birendra and his entire family were gunned down in the tightly guarded royal palace here.

At a meeting headed by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, the five parties agreed to form a panel to guide the government into starting a new probe into the massacre in which 10 royals were killed on June 1, 2001.

An inquiry commission formed by the then government of prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala blamed crown prince Dipendra for the killings and said drugs and alcohol had stupefied the prince, who took his own life at the end. However, the report has always been regarded with disbelief by Nepalis.

The slain king’s younger brother Gyanendra, who ascended the throne after the murders, had come under suspicion as the person who benefited most, a suspicion which deepened when the new king executed a cleverly plotted coup in 2005 to seize absolute power with the help of the army.

Gyanendra, who had treated the unspoken accusations with disdain, refuted them strongly last year after he was stripped of his crown and ordered to leave his ancestral palace Narayanhity to begin a humble life as a commoner.

On Thursday, Prachanda inaugurated the royal palace as a national museum and pledged to order a new investigation into the murders that are regarded as the pivotal event that led to the unravelling of the 239-year-old institution of monarchy in Nepal.

“This is the place from where Nepal’s culture of impunity grew,” Prachanda had said in an emotional message before a large gathering of diplomats, government officials and journalists.

“My government will take the initiative to start a fresh investigation into the massacre and expose before people the true perpetrators.

“Till we can resolve that mystery, Nepal will not be truly developed as an institutionalised republic,” he added.

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