Cambodia's Appeal Court yesterday upheld a verdict sentencing Buddhist layman Ros Sarin to 17 years in prison for the sexual assault of a woman and a child.
“The court decides to uphold Phnom Penh court’s verdict and continue to detain the accused,” said Judge Pak Chansambo, announcing the decision in the absence of both the accused and the victims.
Ros Sarin, 57, of Kandal province, is the founder of Phnom Reap pagoda and Sovan Thomareach pagodas, both located in the capital.
He was arrested by military police in June 2009 and charged with two counts of rape against a 37-year-old woman, as well as committing indecent acts against a minor who was under her care. During a trial held last August, the defense questioned why the complainant had waited four years to come forward to police, suggesting her claims had been fabricated to gain money from the defendant. Testimonies from more than 20 witnesses from both sides were heard, ultimately leading to the conviction of Ros Sarin. Sarin’s construction chief, Hang Samoeun, was found guilty of conspiring in the multiple offenses committed between 1994 and 2005 and received a 15-year sentence. His appeal was also rejected yesterday.
Kao Sopheaktra, the victims’ lawyer, said yesterday that he was pleased with the verdict.
“The decision of the Appeal Court provides justice for my clients,” he said.
Sann Chuoy, defense lawyer for Ros Sarin, said that he was not in Phnom Penh and unaware of the announcement, but would discuss the prospect of a further appeal with Ros Sarin’s family.
Judge Pak Chansambo said that the families of Ros Sarin and Hang Samoeun could still appeal the verdict in the Supreme Court.