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Probe Launched Over Doctored Image of King


Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni, center, greets his government officials upon his arrival for the water festival in front of Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016. The three-day annual festival, started Sunday, dedicates to the kingdom's ancestral naval warriors. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Three suspects are alleged to have posted online a pornographic image with King Norodom Sihamoni’s head edited into the scene which went viral on social media.

The Ministry of Interior is searching for three suspects who are alleged to have posted online a pornographic image with King Norodom Sihamoni’s head edited into the scene which went viral on social media.

Khieu Sopheak, Interior Ministry spokesman, said the creation of the image could be in breach of the Cambodian constitution, which protect the royals from harm.

He added that three suspects had been identified: two he said were opposition activists living in Cambodia and a third was based overseas.

“In Cambodian constitutional law, there is an article that stipulates that the King cannot be harmed. But no other articles mention that it is illegal to insult the King, so it depends on the judicial system,” he said.

Sok Sam Oeun, a veteran legal expert, said that there was no law governing insults to the King and as such it would be difficult to bring a case against the suspects.

Article 7 of the constitution, however, states that the King “shall be inviolable.”

Chin Malin, Justice Ministry spokesman, said that the courts could also bring charges under the country’s defamation laws.

“It depends on the investigation of the courts to conclude whether or not there is enough evidence for a guilty verdict for the act of defamation,” he said.

He added that “defamation of the King occurs frequently” and that as this is now “considered an issue” the ministry would consider a new law specifically targeting people who defame the King.

Several top officials have also received death threats online this year, including Prime Minister Hun Sen, Interior Minister Sar Kheng, and Sok Touch, head of the Border Committee.

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