Following the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s order that he choose new lawyers, British businessman Gregg Fryett spoke out yesterday, asserting his innocence in the multimillion-dollar fraud case against him that began last month.
In an email, Fryett, who is also wanted in Britain, characterised his detention as “highly contentious”, and slammed the prosecution as “struggling to evidence any of the allegations”.
“This is nothing more than a false prosecution brought by corrupt officials thereby falsely imprisoning us,” he wrote, adding that he felt the court’s conduct was damaging the image of the judiciary, as well as that of the country as an investment for foreign capital.
Facing allegations of business fraud and money laundering along with four alleged associates, of whom some are Cambodian-American, Fryett went on to claim the UK and US embassies are looking closely into his case.
“The issues of this case were discussed in the European Parliament last night by James Carver MEP. And the two embassies are growing more concerned by the day with the likely international repercussions of the detention and prosecution,” he said.
Carver, who represents Britain’s far-right UKIP party, raised the Fryett case in Parliament on Monday.
“That Fryett has spent 31 months . . . before being brought to trial, in jail, raises many concerns for those who champion justice, also questioning Cambodia’s reputation by highlighting the systemic problems in her justice system,” Carver said.
Fryett, 47, claimed he alerted the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and stated his intention to bring the issue to multiple international courts. The OHCHR in Cambodia did respond to a request for comment as of press time.
Responding to allegations of faking public documents to clear more than 770,000 hectares of state forest lands in Banteay Meanchey province between 2010 and 2012, Fryett offered up a July 5, 2012, letter signed by Banteay Meanchey Provincial Governor Oung Eoun and addressed to Prime Minister Hun Sen detailing problems with the criminal investigation brought against Fryett and his associates.
A translation of the letter provided criticises the Forestry Administration official who filed the complaint, Vann Sophana, along with former deputy provincial governor Tuor Theanty and disgraced Phnom Penh judge Ang Maltey, accusing them of abusing their power and corruption.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ALESSANDRO MARAZZI SASSOON