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Wednesday, March 4, 1998 Published at 07:20 GMT

World: Asia-Pacific

Former Cambodian PM snubs arms trial
image: [ Prince Norodom Ranariddh faces charges of arms smuggling ]
Prince Norodom Ranariddh faces charges of arms smuggling

The trial opens in Cambodia on Wednesday of the former prime minister, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who was deposed last year by his co-prime minster and political rival, Hun Sen.

The prince, who faces charges of arms smuggling, is in exile in Thailand and says he will not attend the trial and does not intend to present a defence.

An aide to the Prince, Kong Vibol, said from Bangkok: "We don't recognise the court of Mr Hun Sen. He can do whatever he wants."

[ image: Hun Sen: ousted Ranariddh last year]
Hun Sen: ousted Ranariddh last year
The BBC correspondent in Phnom Penh says there is little doubt the prince will be found guilty as it is widely accepted that the judicial system reflects the wishes of Hun Sen.

Later this month, Prince Ranariddh is also due to face charges of collaborating with Khmer Rouge guerrillas who are fighting the government.

However, under the terms of a Japanese-brokered peace deal, Prince Ranariddh is expected to be given a royal pardon by his father, King Norodom Sihanouk, allowing him to return to Cambodia and stand in elections scheduled to be held in July.

Last week, Prince Ranariddh offered a unilateral ceasefire in the fighting between his forces and government troops, which started after he was ousted last July.

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