Princess Norodom Marie Ranariddh has filed a complaint at Phnom Penh Municipal Court seeking the prosecution of her estranged husband Prince Norodom Ranariddh for allegedly breaching the monogamy law, officials said Sunday.
Funcinpec spokesman Nouv Sovathero said that Princess Marie, a Funcinpec lawmaker and senior minister with the party, wants no financial redress from the prince, but does want justice over his al-leged infidelity.
“The lawsuit was filed two weeks ago,” Nouv Sovathero said by telephone. “The law can prosecute the prince and find justice for the princess,” he said.
Nouv Sovathero declined to give contact details for Princess Marie.
Sok Kalyan, deputy prosecutor at the municipal court, said he received Princess Marie’s complaint two weeks ago.
“I have received the complaint relating to the mistress offense. I am investigating the case to find evidence,” he said.
Sok Kalyan added that he will invite both the princess and the prince to court once he has completed his investigation.
Prince Ranariddh confirmed publicly last month that he is in a long-term relationship with classical dancer Ouk Phalla, and that the pair has a three-year-old son, Norodom Sotheariddh.
When the National Assembly passed the monogomy law in August, several observers said it appeared to have been drafted with Prince Ranariddh in mind.
According to the law, if a person has an affair while married, they will face fines of between $50 and $250, and could spend between a month and a year behind bars.
On Friday the National Assembly passed an amendment to the law on the election of Assembly members allowing for the instant sacking of a lawmaker found guilty of a crime or misdemeanor.
Muth Channtha, spokesman for the prince’s fledgling Norodom Ranariddh Party, said the princess’ lawsuit was intended to strike a blow to Prince’s Ranariddh’s political career.
“It is politically intended to reduce Prince Norodom Ranariddh’s popularity,” he said, adding that it was inappropriate of Princess Marie to seek legal action over the prince’s private life.
“A good wife should never file a lawsuit against a husband at the court,” he said.
Muth Channtha also maintained that after their wedding in 1968, the prince and princess never formally registered as being married, so her allegations of marital infidelity against the prince are groundless.
Nouv Sovathero denied that the lawsuit is politically motivated.
“We have no reason to urge the princess to file the lawsuit,” he said.
He also said that retired King Norodom Sihanouk was a witness to the couple’s marriage.
“[Princess Marie] is so sad because of Prince Norodom Ranariddh,” he added.
Prince Sisowath Thomico, who has entered into a political alliance with the NRP, said Prince Ranariddh will return to Cambodia within two weeks.
“The lawsuit is a serious bother to Samdech Krom Preah,” he said. “It is very awful.”
Prince Thomico added that Princess Marie should file simply for divorce, and should not seek Prince Ranariddh’s prosecution.
He also said that he and other royal family members will appeal to King Norodom Sihamoni to strip Marie of her title as princess.
Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said Prince Ranariddh should not be prosecuted, as his marriage had collapsed and he had taken up with Ouk Phalla prior to the law’s introduction.
But, he added: “The court is not independent so it is possible that the court will continue to prosecute the prince.”
Government spokesman and Information Minister Khieu Kanharith could not be reached for comment.
Retired King Norodom Sihanouk also weighed in on reports of Princess Marie’s lawsuit.
In a message dated Wednesday and posted to his Web site, Norodom Sihanouk noted that Prince Ranariddh’s camp is arguing that there is no legal document proving the prince and princess are married.
“If one accepts this ‘situation’ or this way of ‘reasoning,’ my ‘spouse’ is ‘also’ not ‘my wife,’ for our marital status, along with many other important documents located at the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, disappeared under the ‘Republic of Lon Nol’ and under the ‘regime of Pol Pot’!!” the retired King wrote.
“KAFKA is ‘outdone’ in our country, ‘the new fatherland of Angkor,’” he added. (Additional reporting by Douglas Gillison)