Funcinpec Asks Court To Arrest Ranariddh

Funcinpec called Tuesday for the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to arrest Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who returned to Cambodia on Sunday with his long-time partner Ouk Phalla and their 3-year-old son Norodom Sotheariddh.

Funcinpec said the court should confiscate the prince’s passport so he cannot leave the country and that he should be arrested for breach of trust over the sale of Funcinpec’s headquarters in late 2005.

“The Funcinpec party would like to urge the judge of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to temporarily arrest the prince to enable the smooth court procedure and solve the complaint,” the party said in a statement faxed to the media.

Arrest was necessary “because the prince likes to stay abroad rather than in the country,” Fun­cinpec added.

Ke Sakhan, a judge at the court, said he was unaware of the re­quest and declined comment.

The court charged Prince Ra­nariddh with breach of trust Dec 18 for allegedly selling Fun­cinpec’s headquarters next to the French Embassy and keeping the proceeds.

Funcinpec claims the prince received $3.6 million from the deal. If convicted, the prince could face between one and five years behind bars.

A relaxed-looking Prince Ra­nariddh dismissed the calls for his arrest by his former colleagues Tuesday at a ceremony in Phnom Penh to mark his 63rd birthday.

“If the court arrests [me], this will show that there is not justice,” he told about 100 members of his new Norodom Ranariddh Party at the party’s Tuol Kok district headquarters.

“I don’t run away from my homeland. If I didn’t come back, they would say that I am guilty. I am not afraid of the court. I am not guilty,” he added.

Prince Ranariddh, who return­ed from France on Sunday after almost a month outside the country, also introduced to the public his partner, classical dancer Ouk Phalla, and their son, Norodom Sotheariddh.

Prince Ranariddh reiterated that he has behaved responsibly and should not be prosecuted for his private life.

The prince’s estranged wife, Princess Norodom Marie, has filed a lawsuit at the municipal court seeking her husband’s pro­secution under the controversial adultery law.

Prince Ranariddh told re­porters that double standards have been applied in the attention to his relationship with Ouk Phalla.

“What about those who make women pregnant, kill and launch acid attacks. There is a criminal law. Why is there no action taken against them?” Prince Ranariddh asked.

Ouk Phalla, who many believe was the unnamed mistress that Prime Minister Hun Sen referred to as an “evil vixen” last year, did not address the crowd.

The prince also said that Fun­cinpec Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay had sent delegates to negotiate with him to have the breach of trust complaint against him dropped, but that he refused the peace overture.

“Nhiek Bun Chhay sent people to talk with me,” he said. “I didn’t negotiate,” he added without elaborating.

Prince Ranariddh also announ­ced that he is no longer interested in inviting SRP leader Sam Rainsy to form a political alliance with him.

“I dare not invite him. My priority is to strengthen the party,” he said.

Sam Rainsy said he did not want to join an alliance with the prince, who he claimed only launched the NRP to once again negotiate with Hun Sen to earn a lucrative seat in the government.

“This is just Prince Norodom Ranariddh’s trick to negotiate with Samdech Hun Sen for money and a better life,” Sam Rainsy said by telephone.

Funcinpec spokesman Nouv Sovathero denied his party had sent a delegation to negotiate with the prince.

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said it is up to the court to decide whether to arrest Prince Rana­riddh. But he added that the ruling party does not currently have a problem with the prince.

“We welcome any party that would like to join with us,” Cheam Yeap said.

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