Retired King Norodom Sihanouk on Sunday announced plans to sue a pro-SRP newspaper after it printed two front-page articles last week containing strong allegations about himself and the Khmer Rouge regime.
In a letter issued to reporters by e-mail, the retired King asked Royal Palace Minister Kong Sam Ol to begin a lawsuit on behalf of himself and Queen Norodom Monineath against Sralanh Khmer, its publisher and the author of the articles.
“A long article in the newspaper…has attacked me with horrible and very contemptuous and insulting calumnies which distort the History of our Country while very unjustly destroying my honor and that of the Khmer Monarchies of the 20th and 21st Centuries,” Norodom Sihanouk wrote.
In a two-part series which appeared on Thursday’s and Friday’s front pages, Sralanh Khmer published a lengthy essay attributed to a man named Yin Sem who, the newspaper said, is currently living in Dijon, France.
The articles make allegations concerning both Norodom Sihanouk and Prime Minister Hun Sen, relating to the Khmer Rouge era.
Sralanh Khmer Editor Thach Keth said Sunday he was surprised to learn of the retired King’s reaction, adding that he had merely related the views of another person.
“I couldn’t believe he is suing me because I just translated the English version of Yin Sem’s article,” he said.
Thach Keth was also charged last month with disinformation and insulting Phnom Penh Municipal Court Director Chiv Keng after the newspaper printed articles in January saying that police had disregarded court orders.
Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith declined to comment on Norodom Sihanouk’s threat of legal action. The government had not yet decided how to respond to the allegations against Hun Sen, he said. “Maybe the lawyers will make some suggestion, but this is a low-grade newspaper,” he said.
“Why do we have to [have a] dispute with this newspaper?”