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The show goes on...

PRINCE Norodom Ranariddh can expect a similar show in absentia on March 17 on charges

of colluding with the Khmer Rouge, according to observers at his first trial.

The charges are rooted in the Prince's attempts to reach a defection deal with Anglong

Veng early last year.

A March 2 warrant signed by Ney Thol has been issued for Nhek Bun Chhay, Ranariddh,

his former security chief Serei Kosal, and the deceased General Chao Sambath to appear

before the military court.

Sambath's body was found buried after his torture and execution in the days following

the July coup.

Most observers believe that the court is certain to convict them all.

One foreign human rights worker thought it odd that Cam-bodia's judges appear ready

to prosecute beyond the grave.

"In my country, when the suspect is found to have died before the trial, you

just let them off."

All four - who are listed on the warrant as being in self-exile - are supposed to

stand trial for "crimes against the internal security of the country and violation

of orders of the higher level, and for organizing (illegal) armed forces".

Observers say Ranariddh's current prison sentence is likely to be doubled or tripled.

A civil case has also been filed against Ranariddh on behalf of two wives of a Funcinpec

delegation sent to Anlong Veng to negotiate with the hardline Khmer Rouge early last

year.

Eleven of the 15 negotiators were killed by the Khmer Rouge soon after their arrival.

One observer speculated that the case may be used to strip Ranariddh of his personal

wealth to make his life in Cambodia as difficult as possible.

Others say the government is using a legal sledgehammer to ensure he remains in exile.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy is attempting to discredit the civil case by filing

other cases against Hun Sen himself on behalf of several widows of men killed during

the coup.

Rainsy said this was to highlight what he calls "discrepancies in Hun Sen's

court".

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