Foreign Minister Defends Decision to Not Appear for Questioning at ECCC

At a press conference yesterday welcoming the Paris Court of Appeal’s decision to uphold a sentence against SRP President Sam Rainsy for defamation, Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong also made his case for not appearing before investigators at the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

Mr Namhong said that the Appeal Court in Paris, which upheld a conviction against Mr Rainsy on May 20, had also upheld an earlier sentence that the opposition leader and his publisher, Jean-Etienne Cohen-Seat, pay one euro in symbolic damages, $6,000 for his legal fees, and a fine of $1,325 each.

“I demanded one euro and the [French court] agreed,” Mr Namhong said.

On May 20, a three-judge panel affirmed the verdict handed down in January 2009 by the Paris Criminal Court, which found that Mr Rainsy and Mr Cohen-Seat defamed Mr Namhong in the opposition leader’s 2008 memoir, “Rooted in Stone.” The book accused the foreign minister of collaborating with the Khmer Rouge.

The decision marked the third time a French court had ruled in Mr Namhong’s favor concerning the Khmer Rouge-era allegations.

Also at yesterday’s press conference, Mr Namhong said he rejected a request to appear for questioning at the Khmer Rouge tribunal because the summons letter was signed by only one of the tribunal’s co-investigating judges.

“According to the agreement between the Royal Government of Cambodia and the UN, there are two judges who must sign it, Khmer and foreigner,” Mr Namhong said. “Marcel Lemonde violated the rule of law and signed it by himself. So as a member of the government I could not accept,” he added.

In late September, French Co-Investigating Judge Marcel Lemonde summoned officials including CPP Senate President Chea Sim, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong and National Assembly President Heng Samrin to testify before the tribunal as witnesses.

Mr Lemonde could not be contacted for comment yesterday.

Mr Namhong went on to defend his time during the Pol Pot regime.

“I was a chief of the prisoner committee and had no rights and worked under orders from a man known as Savorn to provide food to prisoners at Beng Trabek center,” he said. “During that time, as we know, there was no one who refused orders and we had no right to refuse.”



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