Prince Norodom Ranariddh has written a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen, appealing as a “brother” for the premier to ensure there is no political interference in his case before the Appeal Court, the Norodom Ranariddh Party said July 5.
NRP spokesman Muth Channtha said that the prince had written to Hun Sen because he was afraid that the court would not treat him fairly because of political pressures placed upon it.
“Prince Norodom Ranariddh wrote to Samdech Hun Sen as a brother, asking him to ensure justice at the Appeal Court,” Muth Channtha said.
Prince Ranariddh has been in self-imposed exile abroad since January because of a breach of trust case that Funcinpec brought against him over the sale of the party’s former headquarters. The Phnom Penh Municipal Court found the prince guilty in March—he has since appealed the decision.
Prince Ranariddh also used his letter as an opportunity to inform Hun Sen that he intended to seek reconciliation with his former party, Muth Channtha said.
“The prince wanted to inform Samdech Hun Sen that the prince also wants to reconcile,” he said, but added that there were still hurdles to overcome.
Those hurdles include the prince’s dissatisfaction with Funcinpec First Deputy President and Rural Development Minister Lu Laysreng, and Funcinpec’s Oct 18, 2006, vote to remove the prince as party president, Muth Channtha said.
Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith declined to comment on the prince’s letter, but said that Hun Sen and Prince Ranariddh have a strong bond.
Nevertheless, Hun Sen cannot intervene in the judicial system on the prince’s behalf, he added.
Funcinpec Second Deputy President Prince Sisowath Sirirath said the letter may be an attempt by Prince Ranariddh to pave the way for his return.
Lu Laysreng could not be reached for comment.
Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said that both Funcinpec and Hun Sen’s CPP need Prince Ranariddh to return to the country. Funcinpec needs the prince to win back royalist voters and the CPP needs him to give legitimacy to the results of the next national election in 2008, he said.