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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Khmer papers pass judgment

Khmer papers pass judgment

THERE have been divergent reactions in the Khmer media to the Prince Ranariddh trial

and the killing of a high-ranking Funcinpec general on the same day.

The CPP-sympathetic Reasmei Kampuchea stuck to reporting the facts for the Ranariddh

trial, but with the killing of Brigadier-General Kim Sang, the paper took a more

editorializing line.

It said Sang was corrupt and had a "fever for gambling".

It quoted the authorities as saying the killing was motivated by revenge not politics.

Meanwhile the opposition newspaper Voice of Khmer Youth took a more irreverent stand

on the trial - comparing it to play acting in a comedy theater.

With the Sang killing the paper pointed to involvement of national police chief Hok

Lundy. It quoted the victim's wife as saying that Lundy phoned Sang to come in for

a meeting and as he was driving to it he was murdered.

They linked the killing to politics.

Koh Santepheap newspaper followed the Reasmei Kampuchea line, linking the murder

to revenge but concluding that "if the killings continue and the police make

no arrests... Phnom Penh will become the city of ghosts".

Its coverage of the Ranariddh trial was straightforward but it did devote some space

to Ranariddh's reaction, including his attack on Hun Sen and the court system.

Khmer Rouge radio skipped the basic facts of the case, concentrating instead on its

own inimitable "analysis", saying: "On March 4, in Phnom Penh the

yuon invaders and their puppet Hun Sen set up a show trial of Ranariddh who is the

legal Prime Minister."

Unsurprisingly, KR radio blamed Hun Sen for Sang's killing.

All the editors and managers spoken to by the Post said that they acted independently

and were not given any instructions on how to cover either story.

Television station officials also denied they were ordered to show a documentary

the night before the trial that featured footage of the Prince's supporters fighting

during the coup.

Kim Gunawadh, deputy director of National Television (TVK), said they played the

tape because viewers had requested it.

He said he was very surprised to find that other television stations - all six, in

fact - had decided to play exactly the same tape at exactly the same time.

However the director of Apsara TV, Ouk Pranthna, said that the tape was originally

from the Ministry of Information but had been distributed by TVK.

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