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Former King Won’t React To Allegations at Tribunal: Prince

  • Kong Sothanarith
  • VOA Khmer

Norodom Sihanouk was the official head of state for the Khmer Rouge until 1976, after which he was put under house arrest.

Norodom Sihanouk was the official head of state for the Khmer Rouge until 1976, after which he was put under house arrest.

The involvement of former king Norodom Sihanouk in the early days of the Khmer Rouge has been raised twice by former regime leaders before the UN-backed tribunal, but a spokesman for the former monarch says there will be no official reaction.

Ex-head of state Khieu Samphan asked the court earlier this month why Norodom Sihanouk had not been called before the court, because he led a political coalition that included the Khmer Rouge and was intent on reclaiming the throne after he was deposed in a US-backed coup in 1970. Nuon Chea, Pol Pot’s former lieutenant, told the court that Norodom Sihanouk had visited members of the Khmer Rouge for a week in 1973.

Both men are on trial alongside ex-foreign minister Ieng Sary for atrocity crimes, including genocide, in a trial that has helped shed light on the inner workings of the secretive regime.

Long Narin, a witness for the court, said in testimony that the Khmer Rouge resistance had grown “following Sihanouk’s call.”

Sisowath Thomico, a prince and spokesman for Norodom Sihanouk, told VOA Khmer on Friday the former king follows the court proceedings occasionally, “but he won’t make any special reaction” to the testimony of the suspects or witnesses.

“Anyway, he was one of the Khmer Rouge victims, too,” he said.

In fact, Norodom Sihanouk was the official head of state for the Khmer Rouge until 1976, after which he was put under house arrest. He has never been called before the court, and court officials declined an off-site invitation for talks in 2007.

Sisowath Thomico said Friday that Norodom Sihanouk “doesn’t believe the hybrid court can bring full justice to the victims” of the regime.

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