Retired King Irked by Reprinted Movie Review

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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