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Cambodian PM urges citizens to stop protests against opposition leader


17:08, June 13, 2013

PHNOM PENH, June 13 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday urged protesters to suspend demonstrations against Kem Sokha, vice-president of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), for his alleged denial of crimes during the Democratic Kampuchea, or Khmer Rouge regime.

"I'd like to appeal to protesters to suspend demonstrations against him at least until the general election (on July 28) in order to ensure the smooth atmosphere during the one-month election campaigns," the premier said during the inauguration of the new headquarters of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia in Phnom Penh.

He also advised local authorities not to give permission to anyone who asked to protest against Kem Sokha before the election.

Last Sunday, a nationwide protest, organized by the association of Khmer Rouge survivors, was held to demand Kem Sokha to apologize for his alleged denial of crimes committed at the notorious Tuol Sleng prison during the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979.

The ex-prison was the main torture center during the regime, and around 14,000 people were killed at that detention center.

In February last year, the Supreme Court Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia sentenced former chief of Tuol Sleng prison Kaing Guek Eav to life in prison for overseeing the deaths.

However, Kem Sokha said that he would not apologize upon the protestors'demand because he had not denied the existence of the atrocities committed during the regime.

He said his audio-recorded remarks had been edited in a misleading fashion to cause turmoil ahead of the election.

Kem Sokha's alleged remarks prompted the National Assembly of Cambodia to pass a Law on the Denial of Crimes Committed during the Period of the Democratic Kampuchea on Friday.

Under the law, individuals who deny the existence of crimes committed during the regime will be jailed from six months to two years and fined between 250 U.S. dollars and 1,000 U.S. dollars.

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