Takhmau, Cambodia: Australian missionary Martin Chan is hopeful he will be acquitted in his "criminal fraud" trial which is set to resume in a Cambodian court.
Australian missionary Martin Chan, with his wife Deborah Kim, is released on bail in Phnom Penh, Cambodia earlier this month.Credit:AAP
The trial opened on Thursday amid legal arguments over his role in a company-run charity and a multimillion-dollar to deal to construct a Cambodian school that eventually fell through.
"We're going around and around in circles, arguments that go back to March 2016," Chan told AAP outside the Kandal Court of First Instance.
The trial is set to resume on Friday.
Chan had worked as a volunteer for Christian charity His International Services (HIS), alongside director Jung Young-Kim from Korea, which contracted local company PHV Construction to build a school for 1000 bilingual students.
But the multimillion-dollar project was abandoned in 2016 after a dispute with the contractors that turned nasty and the case was refereed to the National Commercial Arbitration Centre, a civil court, where Chan, his director and charity were cleared of any wrongdoing.
However, PHV launched criminal charges, he was arrested last year, charged with "criminal fraud" and spent three months behind bars, sharing a cell with 95 other inmates after bail was denied twice.
He was bailed in a Phnom Penh appeals court last month and his case has won widespread support among Khmers. It is also being closely watched by NGOs, charities and business groups concerned with Cambodia's court system.
During cross-examination, Chan said he had held a 12.5 per cent stake in HIS as arguments between the prosecution and defence focused on his legal responsibilities.
Chan said he was optimistic of being acquitted and has been backed by the Supreme Consultation Forum, a body that can refer difficult legal cases to Prime Minister Hun Sen for mediation.
"This case is suppose to be a very simple case but it's ended up being very complicated," Chan said. "I've spent 95 days in prison and it was very difficult."
He maintained his innocence, saying it was always a business dispute not a criminal matter.
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