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Government Spokesman Khieu Kanharith Says King Can Pardon Sam Rainsy

A government high ranking official Khieu Kanharith gave a clue Tuesday that the government may consider letting King Sihamoni pardon opposition party leader Sam Rainsy on charges of defaming Prince Norodom Ranariddh and Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Phnom Penh municipal court sentences Mr. Sam Rainsy to 18 months imprisonment on 12-22 of this year and fines in the amount of 56 million riels (Cambodian currency).

Prince Ranariddh is FUNCINPEC party president. Government spokesman Khieu Kanharidh says that the government's decision is pending Mr. Sam Rainsy's letter to King Sihamoni for pardon.

Mr. Sam Rainsy announced his decision not to appeal via VOA, and is waiting pardon from the King. His lawyer Som Chandina says his client wants Sam Rainsy party (SRP) to prepare the letter for him.

Sam Rainsy party senator Kong Korm, as acting president, says today (Tuesday) he does not know when the party will send the letter.

FUNCINPEC party spokesman Chea Chan Boribo, and news officials do not answer telephone calls for comment. Former King Sihanouk has pardoned his son Prince Ranariddh, and Prince Norodom Sirivudh in the past.

It remained to be seen if King Sihamoni would pardon someone, although he asked the Khmer leaders for consultation in the previous cases of Mr. Cheam Channy, Mr. Born Samnang, and Mr. Sok Sam Oeun.

Mr. Som says that the Phnom Penh municipal court will have a hearing on Mr. Sam Rainsy case at the beginning of next year.