Thursday, March 27, 2014

Trying to get information about the court hearing in which I was tried in absentia!

Investigating Judge
Phnom Penh Municipal Court                                                           

26th March 2014

Dear Judge

I learnt two weeks ago through a newspaper article, whilst I was in Australia, that Citipointe has brought charges against me, under Article 372 of the Criminal Code. It seems, from what I have read,  Citipointe alleges that I attempted to blackmail the church in March 2013.

May I bring the following to your attention:

(1) I have not been served with a warrant or summons in relation to these charges.

(2) I did not know that there was a court hearing taking place whilst I was in Australia.

(3) Despite what the newspapers say I am not a ‘fugitive’. I have come back to Cambodia to find out what I have been charged with and am staying at the above address – the Europe Guest House.

(4) I have been presented with no documents at all in relation to this matter and so am ignorant of the date on which I supposedly attempted to ‘blackmail’ Citipointe church or the words I allegedly wrote in the ‘blackmail’ attempt.

Could you please supply me with

(1) A summons or warrant in relation to these charges.

(2) A summary of the charges that have been laid by Citipointe, including the date when I allegedly attempted to blackmail the church and the precise words I used.

(3) Information relating to the date upon which the next hearing will be held. I have learnt from the newspaper that the date is 2nd April. Is this correct?

For your information, Citipointe church illegally removed two children from their family in July 2008. Citipointe claims that its removal of the children (Rosa and Chita) was legal as a result of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) the church entered into with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  For five years now the church has refused to supply the parents (Yem Chanthy and Both Chhork) with a copy of this MOU. The church has refused to supply LICADHO or myself with a copy of the MOU.

Before this matter can proceed any further, the church must produce a copy of the MOU to prove that it had a legal right to remove Rosa and Chita and to detain them against the wishes of their parents – Yem Chanthy and Both Chhork - in 2008/2009.

If Citipointe cannot produce a copy of the MOU that gave the church the legal right to remove Rosa and Chita the church is guilty of the crime of Unlawful Removal. I refer to:

Article 8 of Cambodia’s 2008 Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation:

Definition of Unlawful Removal

The act of unlawful removal in this law shall mean to:
1) remove a person from his/her current place of residence to a place
under the actor’s or a third person’s control by means of force,
threat, deception, abuse of power, or enticement, or
2) without legal authority or any other legal justification to do so, take a minor or a person under general custody or curatorship or legal custody away from the legal custody of the parents, care taker or guardian.

I trust that the court will provide me with he information I have requested above as soon as possible. I trust also that the court will insist that a representative on Citipointe church be in court to explain why these charges have been laid against me.

best wishes

James Ricketson

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