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Ricketson trial to conclude today

Khy Sovuthy / Khmer Times Share:
James Ricketson has been in jail since June 2017 on espionage charges. KT/Mai Vireak

Phnom Penh Municipal Court is today set to wrap up the espionage trial of Australian filmmaker James Ricketson, who has been in jail since June 2017.

Presiding Judge Seng Leang said yesterday that today’s hearing will begin at 8.30am and time will be allocated for the defence to offer its concluding arguments.

“The trial is not yet finished today, as we have plans to finish it tomorrow,” Judge Leang said after yesterday’s hearing was adjourned.

Mr Ricketson has been behind bars on espionage charges after he was arrested last year for operating a drone to film an opposition rally without permission.

During the hearing yesterday, Mr Ricketson denied all espionage allegations. He said that he has never colluded with any foreign governments in order to overthrow the government.

The judges questioned him regarding an email sent to friends, relatives, former opposition leader Sam Rainsy and an unnamed Australian Prime Minister in 2013.

Koy Sao, one of the court’s judges, asked Mr Ricketson about emails he sent to his friend criticising the ruling CPP. Mr Ricketson responded by saying that it was harmless and that he meant no offence.

“That’s an email I sent to a friend – it’s not espionage; it’s a personal email,” Mr Ricketson said.

Judge Leang asked Mr Ricketson if he ever sent any of his footage to former opposition leader Sam Rainsy.

“I never sent any videos to Sam Rainsy, but I sent drone footage to the CNRP after one of their marches,” Mr Ricketson responded.

When asked by Judge Leang about an email to a former Australian Prime Minister asking for Australia to levy sanctions against Cambodia, Mr Ricketson responded that it was a harmless personal criticism.

If convicted, Mr Ricketson could be imprisoned for up to ten years.

Last month, Mr Ricketson wrote a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen asking for clemency. “I apologise unreservedly and without condition for any distress I may have caused as a result of my ignorance of Cambodian issues,” the letter said. “If there’s anything I can do to remedy my mistake, please let me know as I only want the best for you and Cambodia.”

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