Princess Undecided on Pursuit of Libel Case

Minister of Culture Princess Bopha Devi said Monday that she remains undecided about whether to appeal last week’s Thai court ruling that awarded her more than $100,000 in a defamation lawsuit.

“Before I decide what to do, I will want to read the written judgment of the court, which I am told will be delivered in two weeks’ time, and then hear my lawyer’s advice,” the princess said in a written statement.

Bopha Devi had originally asked for $6 million when she first filed suit against the Bang­kok Post newspaper over a July 2000 editorial that alleged she was suspected of drug trafficking. She testified in a Bangkok court in February.

Last week, Bopha Devi’s husband, parliamentarian Khek Vandy, said the princess was happy with the result, even though the court awarded her substantially less money than she had sued for.

Khek Vandy indicated on  Wednes­­day that the princess would not appeal the judgment. He said he hoped the newspaper would also not press for an appeal because the princess was ex­hausted by the case.

In last week’s ruling, the court acknowledged the article was untrue and the newspaper was “grossly negligent,” according to a faxed letter from the princess’ Bangkok-based lawyers, Tilleke & Gibbins International Ltd.

“I have been cleared of the un­founded and malicious allegations,” the princess said in the statement.

Meanwhile, King Norodom Sihanouk said in a faxed statement that he has not made any public or private comments on his daughter’s court ruling. Khek Vandy was quoted in Friday’s Cambodge Soir as saying the King “is truly satisfied and proud that his daughter fought back to defend her honor and that of the Khmer throne.”

But the King wrote in the statement Friday that “in truth, I did not say anything about it. I said no word on this matter.”

Khek Vandy said Monday that he did not have a conversation with the King about the ruling, but felt King Sihanouk “could not but be satisfied.”

Eleven members of the Royal Family, including National As­sem­bly President Prince Noro­dom Ranariddh, co-Minister of Defense Prince Sisowath Sirirath and Fun­cinpec Secretary-General Prince Norodom Sirivudh, wrote in a statement that they are “pleased” with the Thai court’s judgment.

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