Rath Rott Mony, the Russia Today news fixer charged over his role in the production of a sex trafficking documentary, will soon make a court appearance to begin his trial.
Mr Rott Mony was charged with incitement to discriminate after aiding RT’s production of the “My Mother Sold Me” film, which was dismissed as fake news by the government.
Y Rin, secretariat chief of Phnom Penh Municipal Court, yesterday said Mr Rott Mony is scheduled to appear before judges tomorrow.
Sam Titseyha, Mr Rott Mony’s lawyer, said he will defend his client in the afternoon.
“I am a defence lawyer and I will try my best to find strong evidence to exculpate my client,” Mr Titseyha said, noting that an investigating judge closed the investigation into Mr Rott Mony’s case on March 25.
Broadcast in October online, the “My Mother Sold Me” film told the story of a young girl whose virginity was reportedly sold by her mother.
After it went viral, the mother and daughter featured in it retracted their statements after being questioned by police as the government dismissed it as fake news.
Soeng Sen Karuna, senior investigator for the rights group Adhoc, yesterday said he hopes the court will drop Mr Rott Mony’s charges.
“We believe that Mr Rott Mony will be freed if court officials have thoroughly considered all the evidence and facts,” Mr Sen Karuna said. “However, we are still worried […] because it’s rare to see justice being delivered.”
He noted that Mr Rott Mony was arrested because he had exposed the human cost of the Kingdom’s sex industry, which affected the government’s reputation.
He said that Adhoc has helped by providing a defence lawyer and the evidence needed to free Mr Rott Mony.
“We have some evidence to help this case, whether it is to be believed is up to the court,” Mr Sen Karuna said.
Film director Pavel Burnatov previously said his team worked with Mr Rott Mony before the film, noting that the film crew obtained all required permits for shooting the documentary.
“He was brought in to assist in making several documentaries in Cambodia – including a 2016 film about the tough working conditions in the nation’s factories,” Mr Burnatov said. “Mony never experienced problems with the authorities before. Everything was fine.”
Mr Rott Mony and his family had briefly fled to Thailand before his arrest in order to seek asylum in the Netherlands. Thai officials then deported him at the request of the Cambodian authorities.
Since then, Mr Rott Mony’s wife Long Kimheang has held numerous protests in front of the Russian embassy in Phnom Penh seeking its assistance to free her husband.
“We will hold protests with placards, asking for intervention from the Russian government,” she said at one protest. “We will come every week until my husband is released.”