A disable former military officer was sent to the Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court yesterday following his arrest on Thursday for allegedly sexually abusing more than 20 underage girls, police said.
Khoun Vanna, who became deputy director of the local Disabled Development Centre after retiring from the army, had long been suspected of abusing girls at his Poipet town centre before the court’s prosecutor ordered his arrest on Thursday, Banteay Meanchey deputy police chief Sith Los said.
A few parents first filed complaints against Vanna in 2008, and complaints continued through 2012, Los said, but police didn’t have enough evidence to arrest Vanna until now.
“More than 20 victims’ parents have now filed complaints to the police, so we arrested him,” he said, adding that three of the alleged victims had come forward to assist in the ongoing investigation.
Vanna, who lost both of his legs and an eye to a landmine 10 years ago when he was stationed at the Thai border, had stated after the accident that he would devote his efforts to assisting disabled people and orphans and would offer them food and shelter at the Disabled Development Centre, Los said.
Soum Chankea, co-ordinator for rights group Adhoc in Banteay Meanchey, said his office also had received the first reports of Vanna abusing girls from the girls’ parents in 2008.
Adhoc had monitored the case, he said, but action against Vanna had been slow because many were afraid of the powerful local figure.
Seila Samleang, country director for child protection NGO Action pour les Enfants, said his organisation and the International Justice Mission had been investigating the case and would offer the victims legal support.
He added that Vanna is in pre-trial detention as the court conducts further investigations.
Khoun Vanna and the Disabled Development Centre could not be reached for comment.
Additional reporting by Kim Sarom