The publisher of a local French-language monthly magazine, L’Echo du Cambodge, implored retired King Norodom Sihanouk’s forgiveness Tuesday, a day after the former king threatened to sue for defamation over a 35-year-old movie review reprinted in its April issue.
However, by Tuesday afternoon the former King had given up his plans to sue, Norodom Sihanouk’s special secretary Prince Sisowath Thomico wrote in an e-mail.
“That is what I was hoping for,” said Marcel Zarca, editor of L’Echo. “I did not at all want to harm or tarnish the image of Norodom Sihanouk,” he added.
In an April 21 letter posted Monday to his Web site, the retired King instructed his advisor Say Bory to hire an attorney in order to sue the magazine for publishing excerpts of a 1971 essay originally published in the French daily newspaper Le Monde.
The article contained a review of “Ombres sur Angkor,” a 1969 film made by then-Prince Norodom Sihanouk, which told the story of a plot by the US Central Intelligence Agency to topple him. The review described the film as propaganda presenting a fantastic and idealized image of Cambodia under the prince’s reign.
The author’s intention was “to ruin and distort my honor and reputation as well as that of Sangkum Reastr Niyum,” the King wrote, referring to his pre-war government, in a second letter posted Monday.
“In Cambodia, we say we don’t need the ax to kill a fly,” Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said.
“[Suing] would not be proportional…. No need to wake a sleeping ghost,” he said.
Zarca said the incident was his own fault. “I skimmed the text but didn’t read it really. If I had read it, I would never have published it,” he said.
The May issue will contain a letter of apology, he added.
“I would also absolutely like to say to [former] King Norodom Sihanouk that, if he wishes, the columns of L’Echo du Cambodge are open to him,” he said.
The retired King had renounced his plans to sue, Prince Sisowath Thomico wrote in an e-mail, but retained the right to do so.
“During his reign, King Sihanouk said he would not make use of Article 7 of the Constitution which stipulates that ‘the King shall be inviolable,’ ” Prince Thomico wrote.
“But today that is no longer the case. He has the right to defend himself when he is attacked.”
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