Hanging Reminds Retired King of Own Death Sentence

The Dec 30 execution of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has aroused the “painful memory” of retired King Norodom Sihan-ouk’s own death sentence, which the US-backed Lon Nol regime issued to him in 1970.

In a message posted to his Web site Saturday, Norodom Sihanouk said that, like Saddam in Iraq, he was sentenced while Cambodia was under US “occupation.”

“[Saddam’s execution] recalls my own death sentence…with the additional revocation of my Cam-bodian nationality and the confiscation of all my possessions,” Norodom Sihanouk wrote.

“Like the Iraq of today, the Cam-bodia of 1970, the year of my sentencing by a non-‘independent’ Tribunal, was under the occupation of the USA,” he wrote.

After being ousted in a coup in March 1970, Norodom Sihanouk was tried in absentia by a military court. He was charged with inciting communists to commit aggression, and inciting Cambodian soldiers to join the enemy, according to historian David Chandler.

In an open letter to the National Assembly, the Senate and the government Jan 2, SRP lawmaker Keo Remy said the execution of Saddam, “a long-serving Middle East leader,” had prompted him to call for a law protecting former Cambodian leaders from prosecution for crimes committed while in office. Saddam’s execution “makes me feel the Kingdom of Cambodia should organize a law to protect former government heads because any individual leading the country for a long time always makes unavoidable mistakes,” Keo Remy wrote.

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