The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday concluded the civil case against Rath Rott Mony over the filming of the controversial RT documentary My Mother Sold Me.
Earlier this week RT, the Russian government-funded television network that produced the documentary on the alleged sale of young women’s virginity, wrote a letter to the Cambodian embassy in Moscow, expressing its concern over Rott Mony’s detention.
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court hearing, comprised of Judge Koy Sao and Deputy Prosecutor Vong Bun Visoth, heard from plaintiffs Tep Salin and her daughter Lim Sreyty that Rott Mony told them he would help with the capital to set up a hairdressers salon and a laundry business.
He said the film would not be shown in Cambodia. RT would air it abroad and should it be successful, they would help her with money, Roth Mony was alleged to have said.
“My family is poor and when Rott Mony told me he could help me financially, [I agreed]. But the title of the film was My Mother Sold Me."
“If I had known this, my daughter and I would not have gotten involved. Though poor, I did not sell my daughter and I demand $10,000 in damages,” Salin said.
Sreyty told the judge that she had volunteered to act in the firm because Rott Mony told her that it was about the lives of poor families in Cambodia.
“He did not tell me the truth beforehand. I have never sold my body even though I am poor. When the case became known to the police, they arrested my mother, saying she had sold me. I demand $10,000 in damages,” Sreyty said.
Sam Titseyha and Lor Chunthy, Rott Mony’s defence lawyers, argued that their client did not instruct anyone to use the words “selling their body”. Those involved answered all questions voluntarily, they said.
In addition, the RT film crew had submitted a letter to the Cambodian embassy in Russia saying that Rott Mony worked for them only as a translator.
“So I ask the court to drop the charges based on Article 496 of the Criminal Code,” defence lawyer Chunthy said.
Prosecutor Bun Visoth said that based on the testimony of the five plaintiffs, evidence, and police reports, Rott Mony had clearly participated in making the film and was a producer as well as a translator.
“The film damaged Cambodia’s reputation. So I would like the court to agree with the investigating judge’s charges,” he said.
The verdict will be announced on June 26.
Ekaterina Yakovleva, the head of RT’s documentary department, said in the letter to the Cambodian embassy in Moscow that Rott Mony had worked with their crew only as a local “fixer and interpreter” between January 22 and February 6 last year.
The documentary was edited in Moscow in August and September last year by a team of solely RT personnel.
They wished to make it clear that the RT crew had secured signed notes of consent from each of the main female characters in respect of their participation and appearance in the film, the letter added.
“We are highly concerned about the detention of Rott Mony and hope that the situation is resolved in the nearest future,” Ekaterina said.