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Widows' case goes to court

Widows of Funcinpec military officers have formally brought their case in court,

accusing Second Prime Minister Hun Sen of ordering their husbands' murder during

last July's coup.

On June 16, plaintiff's attorney Sok Pheng - filling in for Hun Sen's political rival

and lawyer Sam Rainsy - presented evidence at a brief hearing in the Kampong Speu

provincial court.

"I told the judge he is the independent court, so he has the full right to summon

anyone he likes for the trial investigation," Sok Pheng said.

He added that the judge seemed dubious about the case. "He complained, 'Oh,

this is a big story and related to the highest ranking and military officials, so

there is difficulty,'" Peng reported.

The evidence consisted of the "Memorandum to the Royal Government of Cambodia

of Summary Executions, Torture and Missing Persons Since 2-7 July 1997" dated

August 21, l997, from the Cambodia Office of the UN Center for Human Rights.

The accused would face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.

The judge asked for cremation certificates of the three dead men - generals Krouch

Yoeum, Men Bunthorn and Chao Sambath - which Peng said he would try to procure from

the widows.

The widows were not present in court - "They are afraid," Rainsy said.

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