An Australian filmmaker was charged in absentia yesterday by Phnom Penh Municipal Court over claims he threatened to defame a Christian group working in Cambodia.
Municipal Court judge Keo Mony said that 64-year-old James Ricketson was accused of threatening to damage the reputation of Citipointe Church, based in Brisbane, with accusations that it was selling Cambodian children abroad.
“He got angry with Citipointe Church for not allowing … two children who stayed [there to return to] their parents so that he would be able to produce a film,” Mony said yesterday.
Citipointe’s defence lawyer Kong Rady accused Ricketson of attempting to get two girls – Chanthy Rosa, 11, and Chanthy Chita, 12 – out of the church’s shelter so he could continue making a film about their family for his “personal benefit”.
“[H]e has sent messages to my client, and threatened to broadcast [accusations] defaming Citipointe’s reputation,” Rady said.
Ricketson could not be reached yesterday, but a post on his blog says: “My advocacy on behalf of [Rosa’s] parents to get her and her sister Chita returned to the family has resulted in charges being laid against me for which there is no evidence and which are demonstrable nonsense.”
If found guilty, Ricketson could be imprisoned for two to five years and be fined between $1,000 and $2,500. The verdict is due on April 2.