Shelter Preps to Release Girls at Center of Legal Dispute

Two girls at the heart of a legal dispute between a church-run shelter housing them and an Australian filmmaker fighting to have them released could be back with their parents in a matter of weeks, a church official said.

Chap Chanti and Bun Chork sent their two daughters to Phnom Penh’s She Rescue Home during a bout of extreme poverty in 2008 and have been trying to bring them back home for the past five years with the help of filmmaker James Ricketson.

Mr. Ricketson accuses the Brisbane-based Citipointe Church, which runs the She Rescue Home for victims of sex trafficking or those at risk, of holding the girls illegally.

The church in turn is suing him for interfering in its work and attempted blackmail.

In an email, Citipointe Church executive pastor Brian Mulheran said their reintegration “may take a few weeks, if DOSAVY [the department of social affairs, veterans and youth rehabilitation] provide the authority to do so.”

He said the government had scheduled a “family reintegration assessment meeting” for today to help it make a decision.

A verdict in the blackmail case is also due Wednesday.

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