Convicted pedophile Giuseppe Nicolosi (C) of Australia is seen at the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh, Thursday, Dec. 26, 2012. Photograph: Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post
An Australian national convicted of purchasing sex from a five-year-old in 2010 had his final hearing in his appeal yesterday, a hearing that could secure his release, with the prosecution also calling for the charge to be dropped.
The defendant, Giuseppe Nicolosi, 57, was originally sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment in 2011.
But there were problems with the case then, and those could factor into the Appeal Court’s decision.
The victim recanted her original complaint following the Siem Reap Provincial Court trial.
At the appeal hearing yesterday, the investigating judge read out portions of an interview with her in October in which she claimed she’d never even met Nicolosi.
“I have never visited or went to play at his house. He has never done any thing to me,” she said during the interview.
Her statement, however, was challenged by an eight-year-old friend of hers who was also interviewed, and who claimed to have seen the sexual acts taking place.
During yesterday’s hearing, court officials read out the victim’s answers and testimony from her mother and witnesses.
“Through this final hearing, the Penal Assembly of the Court of Appeal expects that it will complete this case, and will find the truth and justice for both parties,” a presiding judge said.
Hean Rith, a deputy prosecutor at the Court of Appeal, said that based on the hearing and the lack of proof, the charges against Nicolosi should be dropped, and Kao Soupha, the defence lawyer, said his client was innocent.
He called for Nicolosi’s release.
Nicolosi could not be reached for comment yesterday.
However, during an interview with the Post in August, he said he was the victim of a false accusation.
To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea at firstname.lastname@example.org