King To Grant Royal Pardons

Eighty-eight prisoners will receive clemency from King Norodom Sihamoni at his coronation Friday, an official at the Ministry of Justice said.

Secretary of State Tuot Lux said 41 prisoners will have their sentences reduced by six months, 29 by nine months and four others by 12 months. Seven­teen will be set free, he said.

Those 88 prisoners were selected by the Ministry, he said, but he did not release their identities nor state the reason for their selection.

Some groups seized the opportunity to issue letters, petitioning the new King to also pardon so-called political prisoners.

Three different groups asked that men convicted of belonging to the outlawed Cambodian Free­dom Fighters be released.

The CFF claimed responsibility for the November 2000 attack on Phnom Penh that led authorities to conduct widespread roundups of suspects. But human rights groups and other observers have labeled the government’s CFF investigation both a political purge and a campaign of fear.

The wives and children of five former opposition party activists and alleged CFF rebels from Pailin have asked that the King pardon their loved ones—Bun Chanto, Chan Bunkheng, Thom­lap Mel, Seng Narin and Hem Em.

The five men were sentenced by Phnom Penh Municipal Court in June 2001 and remain in Prey Sar prison. “The five men are the victim’s of the authorities that exaggerated the evidence in order to accuse them, and they were judged unfairly by the court,” the families wrote.

Six Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians also wrote to King Siha­moni on behalf of their former Pailin activists.

Mao Sam­oeun, secretary-general of the outspoken, ultra-nationalist Khmer Front Party, asked King Siham­oni to free “some politicians who were accus­ed of involvement in the CFF.” Mao Samoeun also asked that senior Khmer Rouge leaders Ta Mok and Duch, who are languish­­ing in the Military Prison, be released on bail, “be­cause some former Khmer Rouge leaders who are Vietnam­ese puppets still have freedom and are under the protection of the government.”


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