The Appeal Court on Wednesday heard the plea for bail by Rath Rott Mony, a suspected filmmaker who has been “temporarily detained” over accusations of “incitement to discriminate” for his alleged role in a documentary by RT, formerly Russia Today.
Held under Article 496 of the Criminal Code by a Phnom Penh Municipal Court investigating judge, he faces one to three years in prison and a fine of two to four million riel ($500-$1,000) if found guilty.
Judge Suos Sam Ath and prosecutor Tan Senarong led the closed-door session which started at 10:30am and lasted for only 10 minutes. The verdict of the hearing will be announced on Thursday.
Rott Mony’s defendant lawyers – Sam Titseyha and Lor Chunthy – were not present during the session, his wife Long Kimheang told reporters outside the court. She said they had not received an invitation from the Appeal Court.
“It might be because the defence lawyers did not submit a letter requesting ‘the right to defend client’,” the Appeal Court spokesperson Touch Tharith said.
He said summon letters are usually issued and sent to the relevant parties before a trial or hearing begins. The Post attempted to reach Titseyha and Chunthy but to no avail.
Kimheang said Rott Mony had not informed her of his hearing for the reason of “her and their one-year-old child’s safety”.
“I would like to call on the Appeal Court to release my husband on bail because we have jobs,” she said, hoping that Thursday’s announcement “would bring a positive result for Rott Mony”.
The judge asked Rott Mony many things, Kimheang said, quoting her husband who “did not disclose the full details”.
She said Rott Mony also shared about the overcrowding at Prey Sar prison, Kimheang added.
Her husband, she said, finds it hard to breathe inside the prison “due to the myriads of smokers” and he cannot sleep well “due to itching”.
Regarding the documentary, My Mother Sold Me, Kimheang said it has been translated into 10 languages. In Cambodia, it went viral, she said.
“When my husband and I first saw the title of the documentary, we started to worry – we had thought that the problem would happen."
“In a phone call, the producers assured him that they would provide a lawyer in case he would need legal assistance. At the end, when my husband got arrested, the producers did not offer any lawyer while we already had two local ones,” she said.
Kimheang added she and fellow activists had sought the intervention of the Russian Embassy in Cambodia and President Putin on the basis that the documentary was produced by a Russian media outlet.
They had staged protests in front of the Russian Embassy “three times already”, but no responses have been given, she said.
Kimheang said she and her husband were in Thailand last month to make a film about Cambodian migrant workers in the Kingdom and to lodge a New Zealand visa application. On December 13, Rott Mony was arrested by Thai authorities, she said.
My Mother Sold Me addressed sex-trafficking in Cambodia and allegedly depicted a young Cambodian woman selling her daughter’s virginity.
The exact role of Rott Mony, who is also the president of the Cambodian Construction Workers Trade Union Federation, in the film shown in October remains a source of controversy.