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Beyond Belief - An analysis of the official report into the Palace massacre

June 24, 2001

Nepal news


Facts can be very strange things. They do not always tell the truth. The official report into the Palace massacre contains many facts. Many of them are probably true. But the report does not give the whole truth or even the most important details of it. Indeed the full report contains many facts that directly contradict each other and even the official press release. But I write here a single fact that will tell you more truth than all the facts presented so far:

'One or two pegs of Famous Grouse Whisky' and a cigarette laced with hashish do not intoxicate a mature man into a state of complete physical and mental collapse. And they certainly would not have done so to the late King Diprendra.

We are being asked to believe that the former Crown Prince became so drunk after a couple of drinks and his regular 'smoke' that he collapsed and later went completely mad. But to all those who knew him that is completely beyond belief.

Diprendra was not an innocent young boy having first taste of such things. Even as a student his appetite for alcohol was well known. And his subsequent life amongst the rich and famous gave him a well-developed tolerance for drink and recreational drugs. His orderly Ram Krishnan confirms that he had been smoking a regular drug mixture for at least a year. This was hardly a man who would lose the power of speech, tear his clothes off and vomit in the bathroom after such a small dose of his regular habit. It is beyond belief.

Even more difficult to believe was the speed of his collapse. At 8.10pm Diprendra was able to drive his grandmother quite safely to the Tribhuvan Sedan. According to witnesses he was not seriously intoxicated then. At 8.19pm he asked his ADC to arrange immediate delivery of his special cigarette. He was about to telephone Debyani Rana and presumably wished to relax whilst talking to her. During the call Prince Paras collected the drugs from orderly Ram Krishnan at the door. Within minutes Diprendra was completely overwhelmed to the extent that by 8.25pm he could no longer speak on the telephone. He became unsteady on his feet and his relatives were obliged to remove him to his bedroom. At about 8.35pm he was found lying on the floor tearing at his clothes. A few minutes later he was heard vomiting in the bathroom. He was not seen drinking in this period and no normal hashish cigarette would have such a rapid dramatic effect on an experienced user. It is beyond belief.

And all those who knew Diprendra are certain that he was not violent by nature. Alcohol and hashish might intensify behavior for a short period but they rarely transform the nature of a person. We are asked to believe that a generally peaceful man was suddenly transformed into a violent maniac simply because he took a few of his regular stimulants and felt upset with his family. We are asked to believe that this made a son deliberately murder not only his parents involved in the argument, but also many other beloved relatives who sympathized with him. But such a crime has never happened to any family in recorded history. And it has certainly never happened inside a wealthy and beloved royal family. It is beyond belief.

A few glasses of whisky would not have this effect upon anyone least of all Diprendra. He had spent much of the day with his parents at a sporting event and could not have intoxicated himself in their company on an official occasion. His ability to drive at 8.10pm also indicates that he had not drunk very much beforehand. Furthermore a drunken man is normally loud and expressive. During the shooting Diprendra was blank faced and silent. And a completely drunken man would not be able to dress himself in full army combat clothes, arm himself with four guns, walk confidently past the kitchen boys and proceed to execute ten people with deadly accuracy. The 'smoke' was therefore crucial in the rapid development of his condition and his subsequent behavior. And his normal dosage of recreational drugs would not have affected him so much for otherwise his ADC would not have arranged their delivery. The logical explanation for these events seems clear: alcohol alone was not the cause and the 'cigarette' delivered to him was not the normal dose he was familiar with or expecting.


The report has not named the 'black substance' that Diprendra normally mixed with hashish and tobacco in his cigarettes. This is a major omission because its identity is absolutely vital to the investigation. Everyone realizes that hashish alone could never bring about such striking physical effects. Millions of people take it every day all over the world and the rate of violent crime among users is known to be very low. The cause is much more likely to have been the 'unnamed black substance'. But any proper investigation could have easily discovered its identity from the supplies which orderly Ram Krishnan agrees he has access to. It could also be determined from a proper examination of Diprendra's blood. But this information has been kept a guarded secret. There must be a reason for this. Perhaps the 'black substance' normally used by Diprendra and the substance found in his blood are not the same.

American news reports have stated it was opium. Opium is often sold as a dark powder and is frequently smoked with Hashish and tobacco. It is quite possible that Diprendra was a regular opium user and that this was the 'black substance' he normally used. Certainly his generally relaxed attitude was indicative of that. But the immediate effects of opium are entirely different to Diprendra's behavior that evening. Smoking opium immediately calms a person and brings about a temporary state of content and happiness. It is does not induce speech difficulties, physical collapse, vomiting and mad violent behavior. To suggest that Diprendra smoked opium that evening is therefore beyond belief.

But another common drug does produce exactly the symptoms that Diprendra displayed. PHENCYCLIDINE has many street names such as PCP and Angel Dust. It comes in many forms including a dark powder that may be smoked with hashish and tobacco. Originally developed as an anesthetic, it has been used by some elite commando units to encourage aggression and courage in battle. Used in very small doses it enhances the relaxing effects of hashish. But if just 8 milligrams (like a few grains of dirt) are inhaled in a cigarette, it will immediately alter speech, induce dizziness and vomiting and lead towards a state of panic. Shortly after bizarre compulsive violent behavior will occur involving blank facial expressions, hallucinations and an overwhelming urge to kill people and commit suicide. It makes the user completely immune to pain and any notion of morality. It is not at all beyond belief that Diprendra was given a cigarette laced heavily with PCP at about 8.20pm. In fact it is a strong possibility.

Whatever the contents of that 'cigarette', it seems certain that Diprendra was not expecting such a massive impact from it. Otherwise he would not have ordered the drug and smoked it in front of his family. And he would not have voluntarily taken such an overdose whilst on the phone to his girlfriend. Had he been planning to use a very powerful drug as a stimulus to murder his family it would have been in his pocket rather than with his orderly. Furthermore regular PCP users suffer involuntary eye movements, memory loss and ongoing speech problems. There is no evidence that Diprendra experienced these difficulties and so there is little likelihood that he was familiar with the drug. We are therefore left with a very serious logical conclusion.

There is a strong possibility that Diprendra was not given his normal 'smoke' at 8.20pm but a cigarette deliberately laced by others with a powerful drug designed to make him into a killer. That directly suggests a conspiracy to murder King Birendra and until such has been properly and fully investigated we should not condemn the Crown Prince in this affair. Even if he did fire the shots as described.

The alternatives

A conspiracy might seem uncomfortable to believe but let us consider the alternatives. If Diprendra was guilty of murder as the report suggests, he acted either spontaneously or with planned calculation. But surely no plan would include the taking of so many drugs that he collapsed and was barely able to walk, talk or think. Furthermore his earlier calm and happy behavior does not suggest a suicidal killer about to murder his entire family. And considering King Birendra's well known heart condition, it seems unlikely that the Crown Prince would deliberately throw everything away when in a few years he might well have the throne and his chosen bride. It is beyond belief. A spontaneous crime of passion seems equally unlikely. According to some accounts he had already made arrangements to discuss his marriage with the king two days later. He made no attempt to talk about the problem that evening and even told Debyani Rana at 8.39pm that he was tired and would speak to her again in the morning. Furthermore, sudden acts of passion invariably begin with loud statements of anger expressed to the victims. Diprendra said nothing. A sudden act of passion without any show of anger is for me beyond belief.

Of course a conspiracy would require a motive but there is no doubt that many powerful figures had much to gain from the death of King Birendra and all his immediate family. His support for constitutional monarchy and his reluctance to use the army in an offensive civil war are well documented. His determination to reduce foreign involvement in Nepali politics is also widely appreciated. Publishing restrictions prevent me from expanding further on this subject but I am sure you will be well aware of those who could have been involved in a conspiracy to murder him.

Unanswered questions

This article is not accusing anyone of being involved in a conspiracy. It is merely outlining a strong possibility that one might have occurred. In any event there are far too many unanswered questions for the investigation to be left as it is.

It is clear from the full report that none of the witnesses were seriously questioned by King Gyanendra's investigating Commission. They were merely invited to present their own accounts without any corroboration or cross-examination. Prince Paras, for example, places great emphasis on alcohol but does not declare his own handling of the drugs that evening. He states that Diprendra 'seemed drunk' and collapsed through 'alcohol overdose' but he did not see him drink anything. Such evidence should have questioned. He should have been asked why he did not mention the drugs and why he thought it was an alcohol overdose. His answers should have been checked against the evidence of other witnesses. But such quality of investigation was not given to any 'evidence' presented to the Commission.

And there are several other serious concerns about the incident. No witnesses actually saw the death of the Queen or Prince Nirajan or even the Crown Prince. And yet according to the evidence of ADC Bohara several armed men were at the scene before the shooting had finished. The Queen was seen chasing after Diprenda but evidence from the scene suggests that she was shot from behind going up the staircase towards his private suite. About 20 people including surviving relatives, kitchen staff, armed rescue workers and various officers were in rooms directly adjacent to the garden. But no body attempted to protect the Queen or Prince Nirajan as they died a few yards away. ADC Bohara even states that he found no guns or cartridges by Diprendra's body.

This was the most bizarre assassination in human history. Of course it may have another explanation involving a trained commando wearing a latex 'Diprendra' face mask and another who dressed the drugged prince in combat clothes, shot him and placed the body in the garden. A face is easier to copy than a voice and the gunman said absolutely nothing during the entire incident. Of course their escape would have been easy in the immediate chaos.

But one thing is certain. The official report indicates the need for an immediate top-level police investigation. Everyone involved must be comprehensively questioned and their evidence subjected to cross examination. Even the evidence of His Majesty King Gyanendra is important to that investigation. When a king is murdered nobody should be above the scope of subsequent investigation. It is the national interest.

King Birendra and his family were not only our national parents but also they were our beloved friends. And before we condemn our late Crown Prince to history as a foul murderer we all have a duty to demand that no question of doubt is left unanswered. We must demand an open police investigation. Our voices should be loud and firm but we do not need to offer violence. If we have a government that respects the law and the nation it will join us in that mission. If not, we must do everything we can to change the administration. This is not about politics. It is about the duty we all have to those who were murdered.

In pursuit of justicel,