New Evidence Shown for UK Businessman

Gregg Fryett, a British entrepreneur jailed on charges of forgery and illegal land clearing, on Wednesday lodged new evidence with the court that his legal team says shows that the initial complaint against him was unlawful and that a government official is guilty of one of the crimes he is charged with committing.

Mr. Fryett, in prison since March 2013, is accused of forging documents to take control of two plots of land in Banteay Meanchey province that belonged to Mao Malay, the wife of deputy prime minister and former military commander Ke Kim Yan, and then illegally clearing the land.

Gregg Fryett leaves the Phnom Penh Municipal Court following a hearing on Wednesday. (Jens Welding Ollgaard/The Cambodia Daily)
Gregg Fryett leaves the Phnom Penh Municipal Court following a hearing on Wednesday. (Jens Welding Ollgaard/The Cambodia Daily)

In the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday, Mr. Fryett, who has long claimed that he was the subject of a nefarious plot by corrupt officials led by disgraced former court director Ang Mealaktei and covered up by the Anti-Corruption Unit, said that the Interior Ministry had conducted its own investigation into the accusations against him.

“The important issue here is that this investigation shows how much the municipal court had been misled by the investigation of Ang Mealaktei,” Mr. Fryett said, holding a stack of documents with Interior Ministry letterheads.

“The full story is that the original complaint of illegally clearing land by [Northern Tonle Sap Inspectorate] Forestry Administration chief Vann Sophanna was unlawful,” he said. “The investigation shows that [former deputy provincial governor] Tou Tean Toeu forged the documents, not me.”

A 2012 letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen from Oung Oeun, the provincial governor at the time, backed up Mr. Fryett’s claims that he had been the victim of Mr. Mealaktei—now in prison on his own corruption charges—and a band of provincial officials including Mr. Sophanna and Mr. Tean Toeu.

And the documents handed over to the court on Wednesday give more evidence in Mr. Fryett’s favor, according to his legal team.

“When my client came to develop, this land had already been cleared long before,” lawyer Neang Hay told the court, referring to two plots of land in Svay Chek district that Mr. Fryett is charged with unlawfully clearing.

“[The] district governor, deputy district governor, deputy chief of Forestry Administration cantonment [and] chief of district agricultural office have all written statements that my client coming to develop the land did not affect the people or the state, and he did not clear state forest,” he said.

“Based on the law, he is not guilty.”

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