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Chakrapong says he's innocent

Chakrapong says he's innocent

PARIS -After nearly three years of silence, Prince Norodom Chakra-pong, in exile

in France, has finally spoken out about his banishment from the Kingdom, upcoming

elections, the Khmer Rouge and internal politics within CPP.

Prince Chakrapong, a son of the King and a half-brother to Prince Ranariddh, who

was exiled in July 1994, for allegedly masterminding a military coup, spoke freely

with the Post in rare interviews, January 15 and February 1.

The prince in a frustrated and combative mood talked openly for three hours in his

simply furnished and transient flat in a working class suburb on the outskirts of

Paris.

On the way from the 'Creteil-Prefecture' tube station near his flat the prince re-iterated

his claims that he was innocent of the coup charges.

"If I had been taking part in the coup, I would not have been in my room at

that time. I would have been hiding in the provinces with the men, not sleeping peacefully,"

he argued.

In the hall of his apartment block the prince's basic letter-box carries the royal

name of Norodom but it marks the entry to a life well below royal standards, apparently

shared only with his daughter.

The prince, a man who seems to have held his silence for too long, spoke of his anger

after years in exile.

As a former member of the CPP politburo, he was sacked from the party for his role

in the coup, and now talks in detail about the divisions he said exist in the party

between Hun Sen and more moderate CPP members.

Chakrapong claims Hun Sen has minority support within the party, but rules by presenting

his party colleagues with 'fait accompli' decisions. He said CPP president Chea Sim

avoids a split within the party by pouring oil on troubled waters.

He said he believes royalist and opposition parties could win upcoming elections

if they maintain their unity and isolate Hun Sen.

The prince claims the pardon for Ieng Sary makes a mockery of Cambodian justice as

he says he, prince Sirivudh and Sin Song are being denied an amnesty for far lesser

or non existent crimes.

The interview was punctuated by the prince making cups of tea, receiving faxes from

Phnom Penh and his calls to be allowed to return to his motherland.

"Three years is a long time to be away from my country," he said.

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