Mixed Reaction on Streets to Ranariddh Conviction

News of Prince Norodom Rana­riddh’s conviction for breach of trust was met on the streets of Phnom Penh on Tuesday with a combination of pity, indifference and a sense that justice had been served.

As well as being sentenced to 18 months in absentia at Phnom Penh Municipal Court, Prince Ranariddh was ordered to pay $150,000 compensation to Funcinpec for selling their headquarters for personal benefit.

Long Chem, a 34-year-old mother holding her baby outside the NagaCorp Casino, said she felt sorry for the prince as it now seems unlikely he will be able to stand in next month’s commune elections.

But like several others interviewed, Long Chem said that, from following the case in the media, Prince Ranariddh appears to have been guilty. “It is right that he should get sentenced like this,” she said.

Tam Boen, a 57-year-old taxi driver from Takeo province, said he also felt sorry for the prince. But he added that he does not believe the prince will ever have to serve his sentence, as he should be able to broker a compromise with the government.

“It is like Sam Rainsy. He was never in prison, he was abroad,” Tam Boen said.

King Norodom Sihamoni pardoned SRP leader Sam Rainsy in February 2006, after he was sentenced in absentia to 18 months in prison in December 2005 for defaming both Prime Minister Hun Sen and Prince Ranariddh.

Serei Thon, a 17-year-old Anuwat High School student, said that he did not know who Prince Rana­riddh was. On learning that he was the son of retired King Norodom Sihanouk, Serei Thon said that he sympathized with the prince in his current situation.

“I pity him because he’s the son of the [retired] King and he has been punished,” he said.

A tuk-tuk driver who gave his name as Mab said that he was not a Prince Ranariddh supporter, as the prince did not appear to have any clear policies. “I pity him but what can we do—it’s his business,” he said.



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