A 32-year-old taxi driver who tried to pass himself off as King Norodom Sihanouk’s long lost son was jailed Monday on charges of forging royal documents, court and police officials in Pursat province said Tuesday.
Vann Touch, also known as “Ke Kimsong,” was arrested Sunday for distributing phony royal messages claiming he was Prince Norodom Naradipo, Pursat deputy police Chief Sarum Chanthy said.
The suspect admitted he had stolen the prince’s identity, though he had not been successful in profiting from the fraud, Sarum Chanthy added.
Prince Naradipo was reportedly killed by the Khmer Rouge in 1975, but his body was never found. The King has maintained his son, who would have turned 58 this year, is dead.
That, however, has not discouraged people from assuming the prince’s identity. Ahead of last year’s national election, the Indra Buddra City Party gathered voter support on rumors that its president, Narak Ratanak Voathanor, was Prince Naradipo.
On Monday, Vann Touch told Pursat Provincial Court he had been instructed by an unidentified person from Phnom Penh to circulate the fake documents, Sarum Chanthy said, though it was unclear why he was asked to do so.
Police were tipped off to the fraud by another suspected impostor, Chan Yipon, who was arrested in November for pretending to be the Buddhist deity Preah Thoammeak, the police chief said. Chan Yipon is jailed in Kandal province and has yet to be tried.
“Nobody knows these guys or believes them,” Sarum Chanthy said.
Pursat court Prosecutor Kong Bin on Tuesday confirmed Vann Touch was in jail awaiting trial.
“This is illegal to pretend this way,” Kong Bin said. “This can be considered a crime that affects the King.”
He declined to comment on the punishment Vann Touch may face, but said he has been charged under Articles 47 to 50 of the Untac Code.
Those articles deal with counterfeiting seals and forging public documents and carry a penalty of five to 15 years imprisonment.