Paras Shah may be free from Thai jail as early as March 6 but only if his status as the former Crown Prince of Nepal is certified by the Embassy of Nepal in Bangkok.
One of Shah’s close associates told southasia.com.au on February 28 that once a document to prove his royal lineage is submitted to the court, the former heir apparent would be released on surety of an apartment he apparently owns in a Thai tourist town.
The only son of Nepal’s last king, Gyanendra Shah of the now overthrown Shah Dynasty, who lost throne when Nepal became a republic in 2008, has been an inmate at Nong Khai Provincial Prison in North-East Thailand since October last year. He was arrested with 9.7 grams of marijuana and 5.8 grams of methamphetamine.
According to Shah’s friend and social activist Sunil Khadka, he visited the Nepali embassy on February 27 in order to obtain a document popularly titled “To Whom It May Concern” which is expected to prove his relation to the ex royal family of the Himalayan nation. But both head and deputy head of the mission were out of station at the time, said the prominent Nepali expatriate in Bangkok.
Khadka said three judges, Shah’s lawyer and the prosecutor had a closed-door meeting on February 26 upon which it was announced that the accused would be released as soon as a certificate to prove his former royalty is submitted to the court. He then would have to appear before the Thai court on March 26, the date of his next hearing.
Shah purchased, southasia.com.au has learnt, an apartment in tourist hotspot Chiang Mai following his recovery from heart attack last year. Khadka said the property is valued at approximately 11 million Thai Baht.
“He will be released as soon as these documents are submitted,” Khadka said in a telephone interview.
He accused the Embassy of Nepal in Thailand of not disclosing his status as a former prince while confirming his Nepali citizenship to Thai Police. “This is nothing but prejudice because besides being a Nepali citizen he is also the former crown prince of our country,” Shah’s ally claimed.
At least 6 unsuccessful attempts were made to contact a representative of the Embassy of Nepal in Thailand.
Khadka said the very first time the Thai court realised about Shah’s status as a former prince was when his lawyer produced documents printed off Internet including his Wikipedia page. However, the Nong Khai Provincial Court declined to act on the basis of digital evidence and hence, demanded a formal document to prove Shah’s status.
Nepal’s legal and international affairs experts argue there is no reason for Shah to receive special treatment from the government other than what would normally be available for other ordinary citizens. Hiranya Lal Shrestha, Nepal’s former ambassador to Russia, said it is the Thai government’s humanitarian obligation to treat Shah for his drug addiction. On the other hand, Shrestha believes the Nepali government must not associate him with his former status while providing legal and consular assistance to the ex-royal.
Dr. Sitaram Joshi, a leading member of the Nepali diaspora in Australia, viewed there was no denying to the fact that Shah indeed was a former prince of Nepal but declined to comment on whether or not the embassy should have mentioned him as a former prince while confirming his citizenship to the Thai Police.
(With input from Krandan Chapagain in Kathmandu. Chapagain is News Chief at Nepal1 Television.)