Suspects Denied Bail Over Alleged Biofuel Scam

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday denied bail to two suspected and charged accomplices of a British man accused of embezzling millions of dollars from investors in the U.K., even though they have reached the limit of their sanctioned pretrial detention, according to their lawyer.

The suspects, Ourm Samnang and Soeun Denny, are former employees of International Green Energy (IGE). British businessman Gregg Fryett, who sold shares in IGE’s failed biofuel project in Banteay Meanchey province to U.K. investors, was arrested in March 2013 on suspicion of defrauding the investors of tens of millions of dollars.

Mr. Samnang and Mr. Denny were arrested two months earlier and stand charged with fraud, forgery and using fake public documents in connection to the deal.

“After the discussion, the suspects are not allowed to be released on bail,” Phnom Penh Court Judge You Bunna said at Wednesday’s hearing.

The judge did not explain his decision further and declined to comment afterward.

In a letter to the court ahead of Wednesday’s hearing, Sok Sam Oeun, a lawyer for the two, argued that the total 18 months the law allows for pretrial detention had expired and that his clients should be released. He also cited a March 19 closing order from an investigating judge in Banteay Meanchey stating that the pair’s detention must not last more than another four months.

“I interpreted that because my clients have been detained for more than four months, they cannot be detained anymore,” Mr. Sam Oeun said Wednesday after the hearing. “But the judge followed his own interpretation.”

“The judge said their temporary detention is over if my clients appeared at the trial one time already,” he added.

Mr. Samnang and Mr. Denny did indeed appear in court for the trial last month.

Mr. Sam Oeun said he would file an appeal against the court’s bail denial soon.

(Additional reporting by Hay Pisey)

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