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Cambodian Fixer Appeals Conviction Linked to Controversial RT Documentary

Ratt Roth Mony, wearing an orange jumpsuit and face mask, is being escorted by a national police officer after a hearing at the Supreme Court in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 1, 2020. (Hul Reaksmey/VOA Khmer)

The Supreme Court will deliver a verdict on July 15 in relation to an appeal filed by media translator Ratt Roth Mony, who has been convicted for his involvement in a Russian documentary about sex trafficking in Phnom Penh.

Ratt Roth Mony was convicted by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on June 26, 2019, for incitement and sentenced to two years in prison. Last November, the Appeal Court dismissed an appeal by Ratt Roth Mony upholding the lower court’s verdict.

Government officials have denied the claims in the documentary, produced by Russian-state media outlet RT called “My Mother Sold Me”, with the lower court ordering Ratt Roth Mony to pay around $16,500 to the two subjects featured in the video.

Outside the courtroom, Ratt Roth Mony’s father, Thouk Ratt, said his son had been unjustly convicted for assisting with the documentary.

“It is like injustice [for my son] because RT said a long time ago that he is just an interpreter. This is an injustice for my family,” he said. RT was formerly known as Russia Today.

Long Kimheang, a former land rights activist and Ratt Roth Mony’s wife, said her husband’s arrest was a threat to other journalists to refrain from reporting on sensitive subjects.

“For the detention of my husband, it’s a serious violation against him,” she said from Thailand, where she now lives. “On the other hand, it’s a pressure [tactic] on other reporters to prevent them from talking and reporting about human rights abuses and sex trafficking.”

In 2019, Ekaterina Yakovleva, RT’s head of documentary production, wrote a letter to Ker Vichet, Cambodian ambassador to Moscow, reiterating that Ratt Roth Mony was a translator and facilitator for RT’s news production team.

Lor Chunthy, one of Ratt Roth Mony’s lawyers, pointed to RT’s letter and explanation that Ratt Roth Mony had stopped working for the Russian publication before the documentary was released.

The documentary was aired in October 2018, with Ratt Roth Mony fleeing to Thailand and applying for asylum after the government criticized the publication of the documentary. He was arrested by Thai authorities and sent back to Cambodia in December 2018, according to Reporters Without Borders.

Supreme Court judge Kem Sathavy said on Wednesday that she would deliver a verdict in the case on July 15. Ratt Roth Mony has served more than 18 months of his two-year prison sentence.