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Friday, June 15, 2007

12-year-old French-language newspaper closed down in Cambodia

Major French-language newspaper in Cambodia, the 12-year-old Cambodge Soir, has been closed down permanently after a two-day strike, local media on Thursday quoted a statement as saying.

The daily newspaper's parent company Societe des Editions du Mekong claimed to be bankrupt, but the truth stood behind an article on the Global Witness report with a theme widely judged too critical towards the government, English-language newspaper the Cambodian Daily quoted the staff's statement and senior editor as saying.

The reporter writing the article was fired and then led to the strike by the staff members on Monday, said the statement.

"On Tuesday night, the director verbally announced the administrative council's decision to close down the Societe des Editions du Mekong, which publishes the Cambodge Soir," it added.

The Societe des Editions du Mekong hasn't given any public comments yet.

The Cambodge Soir used to boast an educated readership who could understand French and enjoy a fixed group of advertisers such as French restaurants and leisure spots.

The Global Witness report alleged that some senior government officials of Cambodia were connected with each other to steal national properties like forestry and land. The government has banned the report and started investigations to locate the people behind it.

Source: Xinhua
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Cambodia PM welcomes 'Killing Fields' tribunal pact

TOKYO, June 14 (Reuters) - Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday welcomed an agreement by Cambodian and international judges to open the long-awaited "Killing Fields" tribunal.

Cambodian and international judges agreed the basic rules on Wednesday for operating a special court to try Pol Pot's top surviving henchmen, allowing the tribunal to proceed in earnest.

"Cambodia will not have a bright future unless the problem is resolved and the trial is held and they are punished," Sen told reporters in Tokyo, where he is on a four-day visit.

Canadian co-prosecutor Robert Petit, who has been compiling preliminary cases against the top Khmer Rouge leaders, told reporters on Wednesday that he would lodge his first formal accusations with the court "within a few weeks".

"This is undoubtedly what all of the people of Cambodia have been hoping for," Sen said through a translator. "I really hope the trial will begin as soon as possible."

Around 1.7 million people are thought to have died during Pol Pot's four-year reign of terror, which was brought to an end in 1979 by a Vietnamese invasion.

Most of the victims of his "Year Zero" revolution were executed, or died of torture, disease, overwork or starvation.

"All the people of Cambodia are very much interested in how the international community will have the Khmer Rouge leaders take responsibility for having inflicted huge damage and how it will hold them responsible to the people for the atrocities," Sen said.

"I believe the Cambodian people have the right to press for that," he added.

Pol Pot himself died in the jungle in 1998 in one of the Khmer Rouge's final redoubts along the border with Thailand. Neither the self-styled "Brother Number One" nor any of his comrades were tried.

The $53 million United Nations-backed court has been plagued by delays and arguments between local and international legal officials, although the approval of the court's internal rules removes the last formal obstacle to its work.

However, no suspect will be appearing in court for at least six months.

The most likely defendants are "Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea, former Foreign Minister Ieng Sary, former President Khieu Samphan, and Duch, head of the Tuol Sleng interrogation and torture centre in Phnom Penh.

Japan is the major financial backer of the court, which is expected to reveal the full extent of China's involvement with the Khmer Rouge.
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Cambodia investment pact inked

Staff writer

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Phnom Penh counterpart, Hun Sen, signed a pact Thursday to promote investments by Japanese firms in Cambodia.

Under the pact, signed at the prime minister's office in Tokyo, Japanese firms will be treated equally in terms of regulation and taxation as Cambodian firms when they invest in the country.
The pact would bar Cambodian companies from requiring investing Japanese firms to transfer technology or procure products in the Southeast Asian nation, because such demands may discourage investments from Japan.

Japan is the top donor to Phnom Penh, but the world's No. 2 economy accounts for a mere 2 percent of Cambodia's overall trade, according to Japanese official data.

Donors are meeting in Cambodia next week, but many have expressed deep frustration over the lack of reform in the corruption-rife nation.

Hun Sen, who arrived on a four-day visit Wednesday, met Japanese business leaders at a luncheon and met with Abe earlier the day.

During the meeting, Abe expressed his intention to provide Cambodia with 3 billion yen in official development assistance over the next three years, even amid recent ODA cutbacks due to the government's austere fiscal policy.

Hun Sen, visiting Japan for the 15th time, welcomed the economic assistance.

In accordance with the pact inked Thursday, a business mission consisting of government and private-sector leaders will be sent in July to promote Japanese investments in Cambodia, Abe told Hun Sen during the meeting. Abe also stressed Tokyo's intention to back up a project to build a second major bridge over the Mekong River, the official said.
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