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James Ricketson eyes royal pardon after verdict

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Australian filmmaker James Ricketson reacts as he attempts to speak to journalists from a prison vehicle after his verdict at Phnom Penh Municipal Court last week. TANG CHHIN Sothy/AFP

James Ricketson eyes royal pardon after verdict

Jailed Australian filmmaker James Ricketson’s lawyer said yesterday that he was preparing a letter to be sent to the Cambodian government seeking a royal pardon for his client.

The 69-year-old was sentenced to six years in prison after being found guilty of “espionage of information prejudicial to national defence” by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court last Friday.

The trial was widely condemned as having little evidence from the prosecution to support the charge.

Defence lawyer Kong Sam Onn said the request would likely be submitted early next week.

“We have decided to request a royal pardon. [The request] needs certain documents in order for it to be sent to Samdech Prime Minister [Hun Sen]. We are preparing the documentation and we will likely submit it early next week,” he said on Thursday.

Ricketson was handed a six-year jail term last Friday after being found guilty of carrying out espionage activities the court said had been committed in Cambodia from December 2010 to June 3, last year, the day of his arrest.

During the trial, the court quizzed him on the five films he had produced on the Kingdom, and on his communications with the leadership of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party.

Sam Onn said he wouldn’t file an appeal as he was confident Ricketson would be excused by the government, leading to a pardon from King Norodom Sihamoni. Consequently, filing an appeal was unnecessary, he said.

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