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Sam Rainsy asks to pay respects to King Father

Sam Rainsy asks to pay respects to King Father

Sam Rainsy during a skype conference in January 2010. Photograph: Phnom Penh Post

Self-exiled opposition party leader Sam Rainsy has written to King Norodom Sihamoni and Prime Minister Hun Sen asking if he can return home to pay respects to the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk without being arrested.

Rainsy, president of the newly formed Cambodian National Rescue Party, faces 12 years in prison if he returns to the Kingdom.

The former SRP leader has been living in France since being convicted of forgery and destruction of public property in 2009, convictions his supporters believe are baseless and politically motivated.

“During this important time of mourning, I would like the King to please help intervene by mercifully intervening so that I [can] respect the King Father’s body and see his face one last time at the Royal Palace,” Rainsy wrote in his letter to Sihamoni, a copy of which was obtained by the Post. Rainsy also asked for intervention in his letter to Hun Sen.

When asked if the government would consider the request, Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said the government did not interfere with court procedures.

Rainsy was free to return home whenever he liked and his letter to the prime minister was politically motivated, Kanharith added.

“He’s issued this letter to sway international opinion and to make it look like the royal government has banned him from coming back home,” he said. “We know he does not really want to come right now, but he’s still happy to take this opportunity to profit politically.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Meas Sokchea at [email protected]