The long-running and at times contentious trial of alleged British fraudster Gregg Fryett came to an end yesterday, with the defendant repeating claims that the Phnom Penh Municipal Court is corrupt and vowing to appeal the verdict if convicted on December 28.
The trial has dragged on for almost four years, with Fryett and his four co-defendants charged with fraud with aggravating circumstances, bribery, faking public documents, using those fake documents and clearing and occupying state forests illegally. All of the accused and their legal representatives denied the charges and requested that they be dropped.
The lawyer for Ouk Keo Ratanak, who has been accused of forging official documents, claimed his client has already been cleared of wrongdoing by the Ministry of Interior. “My client did not know anything about faking the documents. The Ministry of Interior already released a statement confirming that he was not involved,” Sokhon said.
Sok Sam Oeun, a lawyer representing accused Um Sam Ang and Soeun Denny, yesterday said the case was “strange”.
“My clients first asked to bring the case to the Phnom Penh court [from Banteay Meanchey], but the request was rejected. When judge Ang Maltey was reassigned to Phnom Penh, he brought the case with him,” Sam Oeun said.
Maltey has since been arrested on corruption charges.
During his closing remarks, Fryett accused the judges of hampering the progress of Cambodia as a nation, both by undermining the legal system and by discouraging international developers from coming to the country in the future.
“I’d like you to follow the law,” Fryett said when asked to submit a guilty or not guilty plea. After the proceedings, Fryett said that the court is “protecting” businesswoman Mao Maley and her husband, Deputy Prime Minister Ke Kimyan. Maley had already cleared the land in question before it was sold to Fryett, according to Ministry of Interior documents.
“We’re going to see how untouchable they are,” Fryett said. Fryett’s lawyer also said Maley and her associates were responsible for the faked documents and questioned why none had been brought to testify.
Fryett is also wanted in the UK for allegedly defrauding senior citizens by selling them stakes in a spurious Cambodian biofuel company. He and his co-defendants allegedly set up shell companies and NGOs to launder money through an array of fake land deals in Cambodia.