Opposition Paper Faces Lawsuit Over Story

Cambodia’s largest opposition newspaper is facing legal action if it cannot find evidence to support its claims that King Norodom Sihanouk is behind the death of opposition leader Sam Rainsy’s father, Sam Sary, who died while in exile in 1962.

Sam Sary was a long-standing ally of then-Prince Sihanouk and served as Cambodia’s ambassador to England in the late 1950s. He later fell out of favor with the prince.

King Sihanouk was fingered for his death by Moneaksekar Khmer (Khmer Conscience) in a Sept 3 article alleging “The father of Prince Norodom Ranariddh assassinated Sam Sary, who is Sam Rainsy’s father.”

In a Sept 5 letter, the Ministry of Information ordered the paper to “find the real evidence that Prince Ranariddh’s father assassinated Sam Sary” within 15 days, deputy editor Vesna Taravi Chey said Monday.

“If we do not find any evidence, the ministry will complain to the courts,” Vesna Taravi Chey said.

Moneaksekar Khmer only recently reopened after a one month suspension imposed     Aug 2 for anti-royalist articles the government claimed threatened public security. The paper’s editor was also found guilty in July of defaming Prince Ranariddh.

Vesna Taravi Chey said his paper published an article Sept 3 questioning why Funcinpec wanted to bring up killings allegedly carried out in the 1960s.

But he said this was meant as a response to Prince Ranariddh’s accusations—made during commune election campaigning—that Sam Sary was a traitor to the country.

He said another article was published Sept 6 saying the paper did not mean to damage the King’s reputation, “but our article wanted Ranariddh to stop reminding us of the bitter old story in the monarchy’s rule.”

Vesna Taravi Chey said he would try to find a resolution with ministry officials, but would demand that Prince Ranariddh prove how Sam Sary betrayed Cambodia if the complaint wasn’t dropped.

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