PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Prince Norodom Ranariddh has been charged with adultery for having a mistress while still being legally married to his wife, a Cambodian court official said Monday.
The prince, a former prime minister now living in France, faces up to a year in prison and fines of up to $245 if convicted, said Sok Kalyan, a prosecutor at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, adding that the charge was filed last month.
Muth Chantha, a spokesman for Ranariddh, said the charge is politically motivated. The prince's opponents want to prevent him from returning to take part in political activity in Cambodia, Chantha said.
The adultery charge is the latest legal trouble facing Ranariddh, who was sentenced in absentia to 18 months in prison last week after being sued for embezzlement by members of the royalist Funcinpec party he once led.
Funcinpec ousted Ranariddh as its leader in October, citing his alleged incompetence and frequent absences from the country.
Kalyan said Ranariddh "has committed adultery with his legally married wife Marie Ranariddh" by abandoning her to live with Ouk Phalla, a former Cambodian classical dancer. The prince has a 3-year-old son with Phalla.
The charge, stemming from a recent lawsuit by the prince's wife, was filed under an adultery law that was adopted by the legislature in August.
Supporters of the law have said it is intended to make married couples live in harmony. But its opponents have said it is an unnecessary law and that Cambodia has higher priorities to address, such as corruption and poverty.