Prince’s Hearing Date To Be Set After Brief Filed

The NRP has until May 18 to file a statement with the Supreme Court arguing Prince Norodom Ranariddh’s ap­peal of his breach of trust conviction, after which the court will set a hearing date, officials said.

Supreme Court chief clerk Chhang Chantha said Sunday that an appeal hearing date will be set after the court has received and assessed the statement and given copies to Supreme Court President Dith Munthy and the Funcinpec party officials who initially sued their former president in November 2006 over the sale of Funcinpec headquarters.

In March 2007, the Phnom Penh Court found Prince Ranariddh guilty of a breach of trust and sentenced him to 18 months in prison. The prince, who has been in self-imposed exile since the beginning of last year, filed an appeal with the Supreme Court on Jan 17 after the Appeal Court upheld his conviction in October.

Prince Ranariddh’s attorney Liv Sovanna said Sunday that they are hoping for a speedy trial following the submission of their brief.

We “will send the Supreme Court our statement on May 18. The trial might be in June,” he said, proclaiming the prince’s innocence.

“The prince did nothing wrong, and this is a political issue,” he said.

Chhang Chantha said the court does not know when the trial date might be.

Funcinpec Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay said by telephone Sunday that he hopes the Su­preme Court will uphold the lower courts’ decisions.

“We won in the Municipal Court and the Appeal Court, and the prince lost. “This is the last court that we are waiting for, and it is up to the court’s decision,” he said.

Puthea Hang, executive director of the Neutral and Impartial Com­mittee for Free Elections in Cam­bodia, declined to comment directly on the Supreme Court’s action, but said Sunday that Prince Rana­riddh’s continued absence is having a negative effect on his party’s chances in the July election.

“The prince’s situation is still an obstacle,” he said.

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