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Tuesday, 12 June, 2001, 14:03 GMT 15:03 UK
Nepal ends official mourning
Protest
Journalists protest over the arrest of three colleagues
Businesses, schools and government offices have opened in Nepal for the first time since King Birendra and eight other royals died in a palace massacre 12 days ago.

Nepalese man
Many Nepalese cannot believe eyewitness accounts
The official 10 days of mourning ended on Sunday - but most offices stayed closed on Monday for a traditional ceremony that was intended to purge the soul of the late king.

The ceremony involved a Brahmin priest dressing up as the late king and being banished from Kathmandu never to return.

As business resumed in Kathmandu, Maoist rebels fighting to overthrow the monarchy called for the setting up of a broad-based interim government.

'Popular movement'

The head of the underground Maoist Communist Party, Mr Parchanda, said in a statement that the killings had plunged the country into an unprecedented crisis.


I appeal to all the nationalist, left forces and republicans to unite and form a joint interim government.

Maoist leader Prachanda
This could only be resolved through a popular movement to establish an interim government, which he indicated his part might join.

The BBC's Sushil Sharma in Kathmandu says it is not the first time the Maoists have called for an interim government

But he says it is the first time they have not mentioned other demands such as an all-party conference and a new constitution.

More than 1,600 people have died since their insurgency was launched five years ago.

Remanded in custody

In another development, the editor and two publishers of the daily Kantipur newspaper appeared in court on sedition charges.

Yubaraj Ghimire, Kailash Sirohiya and Binod Gyawali were remanded in custody for a further three days after which they will make a further appearance in court.


We are following this case closely

US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher
The three were arrested last week for publishing an article by a top Maoist rebel leader, Baburam Bhattarai, which denounced the new King, Gyanendra, and called on the army to revolt against him.

The US Government has now intervened, calling on the Nepalese authorities to free the three men.

"Clearly, we're concerned about this situation," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.

"We consider a free press to be an essential element of a healthy democracy."

Criticism

Critics say the arrests violate press freedom and the newspaper the men work for says it is going to ask the Supreme Court to free them.

Several hundred journalists held a protest on Monday in Kathmandu demanding their release.

But the government says it has acted lawfully.

If convicted the three could be jailed for up to three years.

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See also:

11 Jun 01 | South Asia
Nepal bids king's soul farewell
02 Jun 01 | South Asia
Nepal royal assassin named king
07 Jun 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Nepal's night of bloodshed
06 Jun 01 | South Asia
'Eyewitness' account blames Dipendra
07 Jun 01 | South Asia
Nepal survivors blame prince
06 Jun 01 | South Asia
Nepal journalists charged with treason
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