Second Premier Hun Sen has toughened his stance on any return of exiled Prince Norodom
Sirivudh, warning King Norodom Sihanouk not to make any "arbitrary" decisions
in favor of his half-brother who is planning to return home.
Hun Sen set new conditions to block amnesty for Sirivudh - an initiative taken by
Prince Ranariddh - saying that it could be given only if the latter has spent at
least two-thirds of his sentence in jail.
Although he acknowledged King Sihanouk's constitutional right to pardon convicts,
the second prime minister said that the King "can not act arbitrarily as he
"The court verdict can not be annulled by anyone. It will remain as it is now
and any attempt to have a re-trial is [inconsistent with] a state of law," Hun
Sen said at the signing of an alliance with Nguon Soeur's Khmer Citizen Party on
At a Funcinpec congress Mar 21, which also marked the one year anniversary of bickering
between Funcinpec and CPP, Ranariddh described Sirivudh's 10-year-in-jail sentence
handed down by the Municipal Court 13 months ago as illegal.
Calling for a revision of the verdict and a retrial of the case, Ranariddh asked
the congress' participants to send a petition to the King asking him to pardon Sirivudh.
"Doing this is for justice for our party, one individual and for guaranteeing
safety for the people throughout the Kingdom of Cambodia," Ranariddh said.
Sirivudh, exiled in France and later sentenced in absentia to 10-year imprisonment
for criminal conspiracy and illegal weapons, has said he would return to the country
this month, but announced no firm date.
Ranariddh compared Siri-vudh's case with that of Sin Sen's - a convicted coup plotter
whose ill health won him permission to stay under house arrest after he spent 18
months in prison.
"I'll urge that Sirivudh be provided with the opportunity to stay in his residence
[like] Sin Sen who is not yet free from punishment, but was allowed to be under house
arrest," Ranariddh said.
"We will protect him to make sure that he has adequate safety upon his return,"
Hun Sen said he had no objection to Ranariddh's suggestion, but in a clear bid to
remain tough on the affair, demanded that Sirivudh be imprisoned for the same length
of time as Sin Sen.
He added that a doctor would be sent to examine the prince's health which is a key
precondition to Sirivudh's transfer home.
"If Sirivudh is not ill, he must complete a ten-year sentence in jail or at
least seven years. Thereby, His Majesty the King can pardon him," Hun Sen said.
The nation's monarchy has come under fire from the CPP's vice-president since the
King's announcement that he was considering abdicating.
Hun Sen warned of a throne crisis and threatened to scrap new elections and also
called for a constitutional amendment to exclude the Royalty from politics.
Angered, Ranariddh fired back, calling Hun Sen's comments discriminatory. He appeared
in firm defense of Sirivudh, the party's former secretary general whose arrest stemmed
significantly from Ranariddh's own decision.
Hun Sen said Ranariddh's lobbying of Funcinpec MPs was instrumental in removing parliamentary
immunity of Sirivudh, paving the way for his arrest.
"Samdech Krom Preah was the one who informed the diplomatic corps about Norodom
Sirivudh's faults. Why one year later, must this matter fall on Hun Sen alone?"
Hun Sen said.
"Look! I think it's enough. Politicians should respect [their words] and stop
being one thing last year and another next year, no-one can do business with you,"