After languishing for more than three years in a Cambodian prison, British businessman Gregg Fryett was again denied bail by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday, although a judge alluded to an end of his long-running trial.
The former chairman of the U.K.-based Sustainable Growth Group was jailed in 2013 along with Cambodian-American associates Um Sam Ang and Soeun Denny, and Cambodian Ouk Keo Ratanak on charges involving a local subsidiary, International Green Energy.
A police officer escorts British businessman Gregg Fryett to a prison vehicle after his fraud case was heard at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in March. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)During hearings over the past two years, the defendants have denied charges of creating fake documents to purchase land for a jatropha plantation in Banteay Meanchey province, defrauding farmers and illegally clearing land.
Presiding Judge Chhuon Sokreasey said the court had again refused bail, as it planned to wrap up the proceedings in short order.
“The court sees no necessity in releasing the four defendants and will keep them imprisoned…in order to finish the case in a short amount of time,” the judge said.
The court’s announcement came a week after officials from the British Embassy in Phnom Penh and the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) met Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana to discuss the case.
An embassy delegation—including British Ambassador Bill Longhurst and a visiting FCO official from London—met Mr. Vong Vathana and colleagues on August 30, the FCO said in an emailed statement.
Officials at the meeting “discussed procedural issues in connection with the case,” it said. “We will continue to monitor the progress of the case.”
The FCO declined to elaborate on the outcome of the meeting or why it had been held now, three years and eight months after Mr. Fryett was detained.
British officials previously met with Cambodian authorities in July to discuss Mr. Fryett’s case, specifically regarding procedural delays, the British Embassy in Phnom Penh said at the time.
Chin Malin, a spokesman for the Justice Ministry, said he was not aware of the latest meeting.
sony@cambodiadaily.com, kohlbacher@cambodiadaily.com
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