A BOUT 20 witnesses including top Funcinpec officials will be summoned to testify
against ousted First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh, according to the Chief
Judge of the military court, who predicted the trial would take place in October.
A former military adviser to the prince, Major General Tum Sambol, told journalists
last week that he will be a witness against the prince at the court case if necessary.
"I will do whatever I can for the purpose of national interests," Sambol
The military court issued two arrest warrants in August, accusing Ranariddh of committing
crimes against national security and of illegally importing weapons in Sihanoukville.
Sambol told the press that the prince was guilty on both counts, claiming that even
while he was close to the prince he was unaware of the secret negotiations conducted
by General Nhek Bun Chhay and Ranariddh with the Khmer Rouge in Anlong Veng.
A high ranking Funcinpec official who asked not to be named claimed that Funcinpec
now had no power to oppose the CPP, saying that Funcinpec officials have to follow
the aims of CPP.
"It is too late to oppose CPP ideas. We must follow them, otherwise we will
have to flee the country," the source said. "If the court needs 10 Funcinpec
officials to testify against their former boss we have to send 10, and if they need
20 we have to send 20. How can we say no?"
Ranariddh's trial was supposed to take place this month but officials had been too
busy, according to the military court Chief Judge Ney Thol.
"I don't want the world to keep waiting for this trial any longer. I wanted
to hold the trial this month but it was impossible because our court officials are
busy with the Pchum Ben ceremony," Thol said.
Investigating judge Nou Chantha said the process of the investigation is proceeding
steadily but hurdles remained as he wanted to find additional evidence and witnesses
to testify against the prince. Chantha said he didn't expect that the prince's trial
would be held soon.
"This court case is not simple. The Prince is First Prime Minister so we cannot
joke around with it. We have to go over it carefully and independently," the
Both Ney Thol and Nou Chantha maintained strongly that their military court is independent
even though the court had been set up by the former government.
"As we are an independent court, we have to proceed with a very lengthy and
independent investigation even if we face difficulties because the prince's trial
needs to be researched more properly in order to document and collect the real evidence
and witnesses for a fair trial," Judge Nou Chantha said.
Around 20 witnesses will be presented at the trial: 10 to testify against the prince
on the importing illegal weapons charge and another 10 for the charge of damaging
national security, according to Ney Thol.
In a separate legal tussle, BLDP founder Son Sann lost a court case to Information
Minister Ieng Mouly on the question of using the party's logo at a hearing at the
Municipal Court Sept 10.
Member of Parliament Thach Reng, a long-time BLDP member, referred to Mouly as "a
child of the younger generation" [someone who had been helped by an elder but
did not return the respect] and said he was not surprised by the court's ruling.
"I am very happy the judge of the municipal court decided our side lost. Because
through this unfair trial it can show people more clearly about the lack of independence
of the courts in Cambodia," Reng said.
Son Sann has two months to file an appeal. But Reng said he will wait until the 59th
day before filing the appeal as a means of preventing Mouly from using the logo for
as long as possible. "This court case will not be finished easily. The dispute
will take years," said Reng, adding that he could still use the logo until the
case was settled.