Witness Says Drunk Nepal Prince Killed Family

After days of riots in the Nepali capital of Katmandu over the lack of official information on the royal bloodbath, a witness publicly accused the late crown prince of slaying nine family members in a drunken frenzy before shooting himself.

Echoing earlier reports that Crown Prince Dipendra killed his father, King Birendra, his mother, Queen Aishwarya, and seven other royal family members during a rampage on June 1, a family member said the late crown prince was drunk during the assault.

"He started to appear that he was intoxicated, really drunk," Dr. Rajiv Raj Shahi, the son-in-law of the late Prince Dhirendra, told a news conference in Katmandu today.

Prince Dhirendra was the younger brother of the late King Birendra.

Using a marker over a plan of the palace compound, Shahi, his head shaved in the traditional Hindu sign of mourning, narrated the sequence of the slaughter at a Katmandu hospital where he was visiting four wounded royals.

"He was just a murderer. He shot the king," said Shahi as he described an inebriated prince staggering around the palace hall where a traditional family dinner was taking place and shooting family members with two assault rifles. "All this happened within minutes. He came in and out of the room three times," he said.

Queen Aishwarya and Dipendra's younger brother Prince Nirajan were shot dead in a garden between the reception room and Dipendra's living quarters, Shahi said. "The Queen confronted him [Dipendra] at the garden. Prince Nirajan tried to save her and was shot in the back. I did not witness that scene."

A Country in Shock

The public account came as the head of an official inquiry into the massacre today said the committee would not complete its investigation by today, the original deadline set by the new King Gyanendra.

Nearly a week after the shootings that shook this landlocked Himalayan nation to its roots, life on the streets of Katmandu was limping back to normal after days of curfew following widespread unrest.

Birendra was a much-loved king who was often credited for bringing stability to an impoverished nation that has seen nine different governments in power over the past 10 years.

Gyanendra, however, has still to establish a popular base with his 22 million subjects. Days after the massacre, hundreds of Nepalis took to the streets of Katmandu, many suggesting Gyanendra and his son, royal "bad boy" Paras Shah, had a hand in the killings.

But Shahi today painted a heroic picture of the current crown prince, crediting him for getting some of the women and children to hide behind a couch when the rampage began. " At one end was Paras with ladies," said Shahi. "The carnage could have been worse."

Motive Not Known

Shahi, however, declined to take questions after his briefing and offered no explanations for why the chubby bon vivant former crown prince went on a horrific shooting spree.

"What motivated him to do this, I'm not sure," said the army doctor.

By most accounts, the Eton-educated Dipendra was allegedly upset with his mother for opposing his plans to marry Devyani Rana, the daughter of a Nepali politician whose family has ties to former royal families in India.

Reports from friends and acquaintances of the former prince paint a picture of an heir to a tradition-bound monarchy struggling with the pressures of dynastic expectations and the freedoms of modern life.

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