Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Nam Hong responded Wednesday to statements made by Prince Sisowath Thomico, warning that he would seek massive monetary compensation for any complaints lodged against him at a future Khmer Rouge tribunal.
Asked to comment on Prince Thomico’s public statement last week in which he announced his intention to file a complaint against the foreign minister, Hor Nam Hong laughed and told reporters that anyone who brings forth such a case should be prepared to pay.
“This is a comic stage, which should not happen. If anyone wishes to play this game, he had better reserve millions of dollars for my compensation,” Hor Nam Hong told reporters outside the Foreign Ministry. “That is all that I wish to say.”
Prince Thomico, the private secretary to retired King Norodom Sihanouk, issued a statement last week, declaring his intention to file a complaint against Hor Nam Hong to discover the fate of his late parents, Prince Sisowath Methavi and Princess Nanette Methavi, the older sister of Queen Norodom Monineath.
Both were detained at the Boeung Trabek political re-education camp in Phnom Penh during the Khmer Rouge regime. Prince Methavi remained at Boeng Trabek from 1975 until his death in 1978 or 1979, Prince Thomico said. Princess Methavi was there from 1977 until her death around the same time.
“[I]f the KR Tribunal is set up someday, I will undoubtedly file a suit against HE Mr Hor Nam Hong to find out about their fate and for their souls to rest in peace,” Prince Thomico wrote in his statement.
Hor Nam Hong successfully sued then-Prince Norodom Sihanouk for defamation in a French court over comments he made in 1989 regarding the minister’s time in Boeung Trabek. Norodom Sihanouk did not show up in court.
In an interview in Phnom Penh last week, before heading to meet the retired King in Beijing, Prince Thomico said he was unconcerned about the possibility of being sued for defamation over his own intended complaint against the Foreign Minister.
“I don’t mind much about it,” Prince Thomico said, adding he merely wanted to seek the truth about what happened to his parents.
“I think there are a million people like me who want to find out what happened to their relatives,” he said.
Prince Thomico said he also lost a 3-year-old daughter during the Khmer Rouge regime; her fate remains unclear.
“As for my parents, I have more accurate information,” he said, adding that he had witness testimonies to support his case, though he declined to elaborate.
According to a statement from Norodom Sihanouk’s prolific and controversial pen pal Ruom Ritt—which was posted on the retired King’s Web site last week following Prince Thomico’s announced plan to launch a suit—the prince informed the Royal Palace of his decision to resign as the retired King’s secretary in order to speak out freely on political matters.
A subsequent letter from Ruom Ritt noted that an unnamed “great Khmer lady” was concerned over Prince Thomico’s “boldness.”
According to Ruom Ritt, she told the retired King: “You must give Thomico advice on wisdom and prudence or send him to live in France.”
In a letter dated Saturday, Norodom Sihanouk issued a letter to his official biographer Julio Jeldres, head of the Khmer Institute for Democracy, saying he did not wish for Prince Thomico to take a position within the institute.
“I present you my humble apologies for the disturbances that my nephew caused you as well as the distinguished managerial staff of KID,” Norodom Sihanouk wrote. “I hope that Thomico will be satisfied with remaining a free man without being in KID or in another organization.”
Following a spell of sudden illness, Norodom Sihanouk on Monday wrote that he had put Prince Thomico in charge of putting together the news summaries regularly posted on the retired King’s Web site.
An e-mail request for comment sent to Prince Thomico received no response by Wednesday evening.