Princess Norodom Bopha Devi’s lawsuit against the Bangkok Post newspaper for defamation, filed after an editorial claimed that police accused her of drug trafficking, is scheduled to be heard in February in Bangkok.
“We had to file a complaint, otherwise it’s as if we were accepting the accusation,” said the princess’s husband, parliamentarian Kek Vandy.
The princess sued the Post Publishing Company and its editor, Pichai Chuensuksawadi, demanding $6 million in compensation for defamation, according to a report in the Nation newspaper in Bangkok on Monday.
The case concerns a Post editorial appearing in July 2000 headlined “The New Threat from Cambodia.”
It read in part: “Also accused is the gracious Princess Bopha Devi, daughter of the king and culture minister greeted effusively when she picked up the smuggled Angkor artifacts in Thailand recently. The Phnom Penh drug squad has directly accused the princess of involvement in a ring trafficking heroin to Vietnam.”
Pich Chivorn, chief of the police anti-drug unit at the Ministry of Interior, said police have never accused the princess of trafficking. “I only heard about this when I read it in the paper. In fact, it is not true,” he said.
The accusation made the princess physically ill, her husband said. “She’s sick. She’s very gentle and very kind, and they accuse her like this.”
The suit claims the princess had to be hospitalized and skipped many official appointments because of “shame,” the Nation newspaper said.
The royal family is using lawyers from Singapore and Bangkok, Kek Vandy said.
(Reporting by Michelle Vachon, Saing Soenthrith, Seth Meixner and Richard Sine)