Prince Norodom Ranariddh has urged King Norodom Sihamoni to provide justice for him following his sentencing to 18 months in prison, while Norodom Ranariddh Party officials are circulating petitions nationwide seeking a royal pardon for their embattled president, an NRP official said.
In a Friday letter to the King, who chairs the Supreme Council of Magistracy, Prince Ranariddh asked him to question the court about its handling of the case, the prince’s adviser Ok Socheat said Sunday. Prince Ranariddh, who was sentenced in absentia, is currently in Belgium.
The NRP said in a Sunday statement that the NRP will not accept the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s March 13 verdict that found the prince guilty of breach of trust in the selling of Funcinpec’s headquarters. The NRP accused presiding Judge Sao Meach of bias and of issuing an unlawful verdict.
“[Party] members and the Norodom Ranariddh Party think that the court’s verdict…is just a verdict to serve the ruling party’s ambition. The court is being used as a tool to defeat or silence competitors,” the NRP said.
Sao Meach, who sentenced the prince, brushed off the prince’s criticism. “I made the decision based on the documents. I have complied with the law,” he said.
Ok Socheat said the NRP’s petitions will be submitted to the King following the commune elections April 1.
Prime Minister Hun Sen has said he will not ask the King to pardon Prince Ranariddh, and CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said Sunday that the King could not issue a pardon without such a request being made.
However, Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said this is not the case.
“There is no law saying that the King needs a request from the prime minister to grant a pardon,” he said.