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PROBE report blames late crown prince for royal killings


KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) _ Investigators on Thursday blamed the late Crown Prince Dipendra for the massacre of Nepal's royal family, saying he had drunk whiskey and smoked opium-laced cigarettes before gunning down his parents and seven others.

The much-anticipated probe said that just before shooting his family, Dipendra spoke several times by mobile phone with the young woman he wanted to marry _ but whom his parents, King Birendra and Queen Aiswarya, opposed.

The two-member probe released its report Thursday after Birendra's brother and successor, King Gyanendra, ordered it to provide an explanation for the killings to an outraged Nepalese public.

Many Nepalese have doubted witness accounts that Dipendra committed the massacre, and some have even speculated that the unpopular Gyanendra _ who was not present at the time _ or his son were somehow behind it. After the massacre, thousands of angry mourners rioted in Nepal for several days.

The panel was made up of Supreme Court Chief Justice Keshav Prasad Upadhyaya and House Speaker Taranath Ranabhat. Its findings were given out by Ranabhat at a news conference in Katmandu, the Nepalese capital.

The investigators did not say whether Dipendra then shot himself after slaying his family, as claimed by witnesses. But Ranabhat said the panel found no cartridges at the scene of the crime other than those used by Dipendra. The crown prince died several days afterward from gunshot wounds suffered during the massacre.

The shootings took place during a dinner party thrown by the king at Narayanhiti Palace the night of June 1.

Dipendra came to the dinner at 7:30 p.m. after drinking his favorite alcohol, ``Famous Grouse'' whiskey. He then asked an aide for opium-laced cigarettes. The aide, Gajendra Bohra, told the panel that the crown prince had been smoking such cigarettes for a year.

Dipendra was taken to his room in an inebriated state by four relatives at the dinner. He then made a call from his mobile phone to his girlfriend, Devyani Rana, in Katmandu, Ranabhat said.

Ranabhat said Rana telephoned some aides of Dipendra within minutes, telling them that the crown prince was slurred in his speech and was probably sick.

The aides went looking for the crown prince and found him sprawled on the floor of his room, trying to take off a head band. They helped him to his feet and took him to the bathroom. But he ordered them to leave, Ranabhat said.

Shortly afterward, Dipendra made two more mobile phone calls to Rana, he said.

After some time, Dipendra came down to the billiard room in army fatigues and began shooting, Ranabhat said. His parents, his brother and sister, two aunts and uncle and two others were killed in the shooting.

Investigators interviewed more than 100 people, including witnesses, staff at the royal palace, firearms and forensic experts, medical doctors and legal advisers, officials said.

Palace officials and other sources have said Dipendra had earlier quarreled with his parents about Rana. The king and queen reportedly told him that if he married Rana his brother would take his place as crown prince.

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