Judges Consider Moving Biofuel Case Back to Banteay Meanchey

Judges at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court said Wednesday they will consider sending the trial of a British businessman and three Cambodians accused of fraud back to Banteay Meanchey province, where the alleged crimes occurred.

For more than two years, Gregg Fryett, the head of International Green Energy (IGE), and two of his employees—Soeun Denny and Ourm Samnang—have remained in prison, accused of using forged documents to acquire land that IGE intended to turn into a jatropha plantation to produce biofuel.

A police officer escorts British businessman Gregg Fryett to a prison vehicle after his fraud case was heard at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
A police officer escorts British businessman Gregg Fryett to a prison vehicle after his fraud case was heard at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

In January 2014, Ouk Keo Rattanak, the former provincial chief of administration in Banteay Meanchey, was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) and charged with forging the land certificates and selling them to Mr. Fryett.

Mr. Fryett claims that Ang Mealaktei—who was removed as director of the municipal court last month amid allegations of serious corruption—fabricated the case.

A 2012 letter from then-Banteay Meanchey governor Oung Oeun to Prime Minister Hun Sen alleges that Mr. Mealaktei and other officials “illegally” confiscated hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of machinery belonging to IGE.

In the first hearing since the removal of Mr. Mealaktei, who brought the IGE case to Phnom Penh when he was promoted from director of the Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court, judges at the municipal court Wednesday said they would consider the defendants’ request to send the case back to the northwestern province.

“The court has decided to delay this case and will deliver the news [on whether to transfer it] next time,” said Judge Chuon Sokreasey after the hearing.

Outside the court, Mr. Keo Rattanak said he had filed a new complaint with the prime minister asking for intervention.

“This case was organized by [Mr. Mealaktei],” he said. “The stage and the stage players were prepared by him.”

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