Imprisoned Missionary in Cambodia Granted Bail
02/10/2020 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Australian missionary Martin Chan, who was arrested in November while boarding a flight to Hong Kong, has been released on bail amid a bitter legal dispute over the construction of a school. Family, friends, and supporters of Martin Chan stood outside of a Phnom Penh court and greeted him with hugs as a bench of three judges announced their decision on February 7.
“I’m relieved and feeling very good; I just want to go home with my wife,” the 49-year-old missionary told Australian Associated Press outside the court.
Chan and his wife Deborah Kim, who met in Sydney, arrived in Cambodia seven years ago. The couple has spent most of their time working as Christian missionaries for a Korean charity called His Child.
Working as an unpaid volunteer, he signed off with His International Services director Jung Young-Kim on plans to build a school in Kandal, south of Phnom Penh. A local firm, PHV Construction, was contracted, but the project ran into difficulties and was scrapped in 2016. PHV subsequently filed a lawsuit against Chan, claiming that the building contract was terminated without reason, and names Chan and the director of His International Services as respondents who allegedly acted fraudulently.
According to UCAN, his case went before the National Commercial Arbitration Centre, where Chan and his charity were cleared of any wrongdoing. Young-Kim then left Cambodia for South Korea.
Following his arrest in November, more than 13,500 people signed a petition demanding his release amid claims that the court was being used for a cash grab; PHV is allegedly demanding more than $1 million USD in compensation.
ABC also reports that the Saesoon Presbyterian Church in Sydney has raised $70,000 AUD to support Mr. Chan’s case in the Cambodian courts. A close friend of the couple, Sung Ho Lee, vouched for Chan by telling ABC, “Martin is a man of great integrity, character, and humor. Honestly, he’s a funny guy, well loved by friends and family.”
For Chan, prison was difficult and he feared being held behind bars indefinitely after two previous bail applications were rejected. However, he added that he was treated well by sympathetic guards who understood his plight. The court has yet to set a date for his criminal fraud charges.
Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager for Southeast Asia, said, “While the bail of Martin Chan is definitely news worth celebrating, we urge the Cambodian authorities to provide a fair and open trial for the Australian missionary, who has spent seven years of his life serving impoverished children in Cambodia along with his wife.”