Thursday, October 19, 2006

King missed an important chance to clarify his side of the story: Panel

The deadline set by the high-level investigation commission headed by former Supreme Court justice Krishna Jung Rayamajhi expired today without King Gyanendra sending his reply to the commission’s questionnaire. The commission had sent a questionnaire to the king on October 12.

It is learnt that the questionnaire had asked the king to clarify his role as head of the government after summarising the statements of those it had questioned.

The king’s response, as of now, is a stony silence. “Today was the deadline we had set to submit his version but he did not do so,” commission member Harihar Birahi told . He also added that the panel had waited till this evening and now will not wait further.

The next day after the questionnaire was registered in the royal palace, the principal secretary of the palace secretariat Pashupati Bhakta Maharjan had met PM Girija Prasad Koirala who reportedly advised that the king send his reply to the commission. The commission has been probing the suppression of the Jana Andolan II and the misuse of state treasury during the royal regime.

“We have taken this issue seriously,” Birahi said. He added that the King missed an important chance to respond to the people and clarify his version. During the andolan which toppled the king’s regime, 25 people were killed and around 6,000 were injured. “We have waited a week. So we can neither wait further nor write to him again and again,” Birahi said, adding: “We will write everything in the report in this regard based on law and wisdom.”

Another member of the commission said if the king were to send his reply before the deadline set by the government to the commission ended, the commission would accept it. Till date the commission has interrogated 280 persons including the vice-chairmen of the Council of Ministers Dr Tulsi Giri, Kirtinidhi Bista, and ministers of the royal cabinet and the Chief of the security agencies including the then chief of army staff Pyar Jung Thapa and the sitting army chief Rookmangud Katawal.

“We questioned him in his previous capacity but we respected his present capacity as the head of the state,” Birahi clarified. “Respecting him as the head of state, we did not choose other modalities to question him.”

This was the first time in Nepal that a public probe commission questioned the King. In 2001, a panel had recorded King Gyanendra’s statement on the royal massacre.

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