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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hor Namhong Versus Sam Rainsy

Hor Namhong Versus Sam Rainsy:
Hearing at the French Court on December 9, 2008

December 11, 2008 (By Sam Rainsy Party Blog)

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong has filed a defamation lawsuit against Sam Rainsy before the French Court following the publication this year in France of a book by the opposition leader titled "Des racines dans la pierre" (Rooted in Stone).

The hearing which took place at Le Palais de Justice in Paris started at 4:50 pm and ended at 8:30 pm.

Hor Namhong was there with five lawyers. They brought Raoul Jennar, a Belgian "expert on Cambodia", as a witness. Sam Rainsy was there too but with only one lawyer and no witness.

Hor Namhong's arguments

1- Former King Norodom Sihanouk was condemned by the French Court on January 23, 1991 after being quoted as saying in the French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche dated July 23, 1989:

"L'équipe de Monsieur Hun Sen est composée d'anciens Khmers rouges archi-criminels. Par exemple, Hor Nam Hong, ex-commandant d'un camp de concentration Khmer rouge, est responsable de la mort après d'atroces tortures de beaucoup d'anciens membres de la résistance anti-américaine, tels mon cousin le prince Sisowath Méthavi et son épouse, sœur aînée de ma femme… "

"Mr. Hun Sen's team is made up of former arch-criminal Khmer Rouge officials. For instance, Hor Nam Hong, ex-commander of a Khmer Rouge concentration camp, is responsible for the death, after atrocious tortures, of many former members of the anti-American resistance, such as my cousin Prince Sisowath Methavy and his spouse, who was my wife's elder sister…"

According to Hor Namhong, Sam Rainsy in his book made against him the same allegations as the ones Norodom Sihanouk made nearly twenty years ago; Sam Rainsy should then be condemned in the same way as the former King was condemned by the same Court.

2- Hor Namhong lost many relatives under the Khmer Rouge regime. Therefore, he could not have cooperated in any way with the Khmer Rouge.

Sam Rainsy's arguments

1- In his book Sam Rainsy actually wrote:

"Hun Sen n'était pas seul dans son cas: la plupart des supplétifs du régime vietnamien avaient frayé avec les Khmers rouges. Quand Ranariddh et Hun Sen eurent définitivement scellé mon compte, ils ne trouvèrent pas mieux que de nommer à la tête de mon ministère Keat Chhon, celui qui, pendant tant d'années, fut le principal conseiller de Pol Pot. Et quelques années plus tard, le Ministre des Affaires Etrangères serait un ancien collaborateur du pouvoir khmer rouge soupçonné d'avoir causé la mort de nombreuses personnes dont des membres de la famille royale".

"Hun Sen was not alone in his case: most of the Vietnamese regime's auxiliary staff had cooperated in one way or another with the Khmer Rouge. When Ranariddh and Hun Sen had definitively decided on my fate, they did not find anything better than appointing at the head of my ministry Keat Chhon, the man who, for so many years had been the main adviser to Pol Pot. And several years later, the Foreign Affairs Minister could be a former collaborator of the Khmer Rouge regime suspected of having caused the death of many people including members of the royal family."

Sam Rainsy points to the fact that what he wrote is not exactly the same, in the content and in the form, as what former King Norodom Sihanouk had reportedly said.

2- There have been new developments and new evidence against Hor Namhong since 1991 when the former King lost the first lawsuit filed by Hor Namhong before the French Court. Sam Rainsy refers to The Cambodia Daily report "Clouded History" published on July 1-2, 2000, the interview of Senator Keo Bunthouk (Mrs. Ieng Kounsaky) titled "A camp called Boeng Trabek" published in The Phnom Penh Post dated January 19 - February 1, 2001 and the book by Ong Thong Hoeung "J'ai cru aux Khmers Rouges" (I believed in the Khmer Rouge) published in Europe in 2003. Related documents at http://tinyurl.com/56czqh

Hor Namhong said that he had filed a defamation lawsuit in Phnom Penh against The Cambodia Daily for the above-mentioned report and that he won the case. Out of the two authors of the report, only the Cambodian reporter [Thet Sambath] was condemned by the Cambodian Court because the other one, who is an American national [Kelly McEvers], "ran away." He said that all the defamation cases initiated by him in Cambodia have been closed because all the concerned journalists [including Dam Sith, the editor of Moneaksekar Khmer (Khmer Conscience) who was jailed for one week this summer], have apologized to him.

Raoul Jennar said that he has been hired by the Khmer Rouge Tribunal in Phnom Penh (ECCC) as an "independent expert." To defend Hor Namhong he said that the genocide perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge was "centralized" in such a way that "only six persons in the Khmer Rouge top leadership could make the decision to kill any person." He also said that the Cambodian government is in no way responsible for any delay in the judicial proceedings at the ECCC.

The French Court will decide on the case on January 27, 2009.

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