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Nearing Release, ‘RT Media Fixer’ Given a New Trial by Supreme Court

FILE PHOTO - Labor activist Rath Rott Mony arrives to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for verdict over his role in making a documentary about sex-trafficking that the government said contained fake news, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia June 26, 2019. REUTERS/Samrang Pring

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the Appeal Court to retry media fixer Rath Rott Mony, who was convicted by a lower court for his involvement in a Russian media documentary on sex workers in Cambodia.

Supreme Court judge Kim Sathavy on Wednesday ruled that there were flaws in the trial of Rath Rott Mony in June 2019 and ordered the Appeal Court to conduct another trial to relitigate the case. She didn’t provide details of the inaccuracies in the case.

“[W]e think that the decision of the Phnom Penh Appeal Court in this criminal case is not right,” said Kim Sathavy, calling the lower court’s decision “surprising.”

The media fixer worked with RT, formerly called Russia Today, on a documentary called “My Mother Sold Me” about underage sex workers in Phnom Penh, which incited a quick, and angry, response from the government.

Shortly after, Rath Rott Mony fled the country and was deported from Thailand in early 2019, after which he was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison last June. He was also fined around $16,000.

“I hope the Appeal Court will drop the charges,” said Rath Rott Mony after the decision was delivered on Wednesday.

He has maintained his innocence and said he had no involvement in the editorial content of the documentary, and that he only facilitated the production of the video.

Touch Tharith, a spokesperson at the Appeal Court, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Long Kimheang, Rath Rott Mony’s wife, said it was “a very surprising decision,” adding that the Supreme Court should have dropped the charges, given that the media fixer has only five months remaining of his prison sentence.

“I am very disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision. He should be released now,” said Long Kimheang, 36

Yi Soksan, senior monitoring officer at local rights group ADHOC, said Rath Rott Mony should be released and lower court officials should be punished if there were any irregularities.

“The Appeal Court officials should be punished since the Supreme Court thought [the trial] was not right,” he said.