Cambodian-American Developer Cleared

The Siem Reap Provincial Court on Thursday found Cambodian-American architect Ronnie Yimsut and his fiancee not guilty of falsifying public documents, defamation and verbal abuse—crimes the couple was accused of by a former manager of their Bakong EcoTourism Technical College project.

Cha Sa-eng, who was fired as executive director of the 10-hectare development project last year, filed the charges with the provincial court in March following a dispute that saw the school-building venture shut down by the Interior Ministry last year.

Judge Koy Sao said Thursday that there had been insufficient evidence to convict the couple.

Mr. Yimsut said he had designed the ambitious project from scratch, and was building on his own ancestral land for the benefit of locals, but had come up against individuals who sought to exploit the fact he and his fiancee were residents of the U.S.

“The charges against me and my fiancee were very serious, carrying potentially 10- to 15-year jail sentences if we were convicted, so this is good news and a great relief,” he said.

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