The Supreme Court on Monday denied the appeal of Rath Rott Mony against a January ruling that denied him bail while he was awaiting trial in connection with producing the documentary My Mother Sold Me for Moscow-run network RT.
The court pointed out that the Phnom Penh Municipal Court had already sentenced him to two years in prison.
Rott Mony was not present in the courtroom on Monday as Judge Chan Raingsey read his verdict.
Raingsey said Rott Mony had told the lower court that he was requesting bail because the authorities knew exactly where he lived and he was always willing and available to cooperate with the court when required.
Rott Mony’s lawyer also cited his client’s assurance that he would not abscond as the reason for the bail request.
But the judge said that having listened to the applicant’s statements and his lawyer’s summing up, the Supreme Court found the request unacceptable because his case had already been heard by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
Rott Mony had applied for bail to the Appeal Court in January – before he was sentenced in June.
“The Appeal Court’s decision not to release the accused on bail was correct, and the Supreme Court upholds the verdict of the Appeal Court,” Judge Raingsey said.
Sam Titseyha, Rott Mony’s lawyer, told The Post by phone on Monday that he was disappointed with the Supreme Court’s verdict.
“In criminal cases, there is no requirement that the accused be detained. If a court chooses to release him or her, they have the power to do so,” he said.
On June 26, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced Rott Mony to two years in prison and ordered him to pay a total of 70 million riel ($17,500) in compensation to two plaintiffs for his involvement in the controversial documentary.
The film addressed sex-trafficking in Cambodia and depicted a young Cambodian woman allegedly selling her daughter’s virginity.
Roth Mony’s wife, Long Kimheang, said after the initial bail request was rejected: “When my husband and I first saw the title of the documentary, we started to worry – we thought there would be a problem.
“In a phone call, the producers assured him that they would provide a lawyer if he needed legal assistance. At the end, when my husband was arrested, the producers did not offer any lawyer while we already had two local ones,” she said.
Kimheang said Rott Mony was arrested by Thai authorities on December 7 while she and her husband were in the kingdom to shoot a film about Cambodian migrant workers and to lodge New Zealand visa applications. He was returned to Cambodia immediately afterwards.
On December 13, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court formally accused Rott Mony of “incitement to discriminate” under Article 496 of the Criminal Code.