Police arrest Nepal’s ex-crown prince over gunshot

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KATHMANDU: Police arrested Nepal’s former crown prince Paras Shah on Tuesday for firing his gun during a drunken late-night argument at an upmarket resort.
Shah, who as crown prince was notorious and unpopular for his playboy lifestyle, fired into the air on Saturday evening after an altercation with two male guests at the resort. Witnesses said he had been drinking heavily. The 38-year-old has admitted firing his gun in anger at insults to Nepal’s monarchy, which was abolished in 2008 after former Maoist rebels who waged a 10-year insurgency against the state came to power.
His arrest, at a five-star hotel in the mountain town of Pokhara, marks the first time any of the former royals have been arrested, but the family – and Shah himself – has a chequered history. In 2001, crown prince Dipendra gunned down nine of his relatives – including the king and queen – in a drink and drugs-fuelled rage before apparently turning the gun on himself.
After his arrest Shah was flown by helicopter to the southern district of Chitwan, where Saturday’s incident took place, superintendent Puskar Karki told AFP.
The former crown prince has said he fired a single bullet into the air after the row “because I could not tolerate the insult upon me and my country”.
But one of the guests involved in the dispute, Rubel Chaudhary, the Bangladeshi son-in-law of Nepal’s deputy prime minister, accused Shah of threatening to kill him.
“We were introduced and initially he was very nice. But later he had quite a lot to drink,” Chaudhary told AFP in Kathmandu.
“He said he wanted to take me into the jungle to see tigers, but I refused because it was already late at night. Then he started making threats. He said he was going to kill me, my wife and my children.”
Local reports have said the gun was not registered and home ministry spokesman Jay Mukunda Khanal said Shah would be charged with using a firearm in a public place. It was not immediately clear what type of gun it was. As crown prince, Shah’s heavy drinking and partying made him unpopular in conservative, predominantly Hindu Nepal, where most people eke a living out of the land.
Ten years ago, he was accused of killing a well-known Nepalese musician in a suspected drink-driving incident outside the royal palace. Mass street demonstrations called for him to be punished, but no charges were brought against him and an army officer later claimed responsibility for the incident.
When he suffered a heart attack in 2007, even some supporters of the monarchy suggested the royal succession should skip a generation. Shah was wounded in the 2001 palace attack, but many people in Nepal still suspected him of involvement — an allegation he has always denied.
He told an inquiry into the tragedy that he did all he could to stop prince Dipendra and managed to save the lives of several children present by hiding them behind a sofa. Shah moved to Singapore with his wife and young son and daughter in 2008 after the fall of the 240-year-old Hindu monarchy. But he has since returned to Nepal, where his wife recently launched a fund to help deprived women and children in a move widely seen as an attempt to rehabilitate the family’s public image.