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Capital court postpones hearing of Oz filmmaker

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Australian filmmaker James Ricketson arrives for questioning in court last year. Pha Lina

Capital court postpones hearing of Oz filmmaker

THE Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday postponed the hearing against Australian filmmaker James Ricketson as his defence lawyer was absent.

The 69-year-old filmmaker was brought to court with dozens of other detainees from Prey Sar prison, where he has been since his arrest last June.

He was charged under Article 446 of the Criminal Code with “collecting information which may undermine national security”, after he flew a drone over the court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party’s (CNRP) commune elections rally. He faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.

The hearing lasted about 30 minutes before the presiding judge, Seng Leang, ruled that it could not proceed without the presence of his lawyers as the accused was facing criminal charges.

Judge Leang said one of Ricketson’s lawyers, Peung Yok Hiep, had requested a month-long postponement so that she could prepare her defence.

Earlier, Prosecuting Attorney Sieng Sok began to present evidence against Ricketson when Leang said he needed to deliberate on the matter.

After five minutes, the judge returned to the court, and said, “We cannot proceed with the hearing. A future date will be determined later.”

There was also a minor confrontation between Ricketson and the judge when the former requested to cross-examine Sok and three witnesses.

However, the request was denied, with the judge saying: “You can challenge them during the hearing, but now we cannot proceed because there is no lawyer.”

Ricketson claimed his innocence, which he has done since his arrest last June, and said the charge brought against him and his detention had violated his rights.

He said he did not get a summons for the hearing and he did not have the relevant case documents. Replying, Judge Leang said: “You can get all relevant documents. Your lawyer can submit requests for copies of all relevant documents.”

The hearing will continue on an unspecified date.

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