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Cambodian accused of raping ‘sweetheart’

PHNOM Penh Municipal Court yesterday heard the case of a Cambodian man accused of raping a 22-year-old woman in Russey Keo district in June last year, with the accused claiming the pair were “sweethearts”.

Vich Huot, 28, was arrested June 19 last year after allegedly raping the woman at a garden near a rented room in Tuol Sangke commune a day earlier. According to the complaint filed by the woman, the accused called her to meet him at the guesthouse, before luring her to the garden and forcing himself on her.

The victim was not present in court yesterday. But court prosecutor Hing Bunchea said her original police complaint provided “enough evidence to prove his guilt”.

Vich Huot, however, denied the allegations against him, saying he and the alleged victim were romantically involved, and that the sex was consensual.

“I did not force her to have sex, but we agreed to have sex with mutual consent that night,” he said.

“We were sweethearts. We hung out several times along the riverside and other places, and used to hug and kiss each other and built trust and love.”

Defence lawyer Pung Yuk Heap said that there was a gaping lack of evidence in the case, and that the victim's account of the incident was false.

“There has been no [doctor’s] examination, just the victim’s complaint lodged with the police and investigations by the investigating judge,” she said.

She said the meeting was instigated by the victim, not by her client.

“The woman agreed to have sex with my client after calling him to meet her, and if there was force used, why did the victim not scream?” she said.

Monday was the last of two days of testimony. No date has been announced for the verdict. If found guilty, Vich Huot faces a sentence of 10 to 15 years in prison. The victim is also seeking US$3,000 in compensation.

Drug sentencing
Meanwhile, Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday sentenced 45-year-old Cambodian man Ros Heang to 20 years in prison and fined him 40 million riels (US$9,523) after he was found guilty of drug trafficking, presiding judge Kor Vandy said.

Ros Heang was arrested in 2008 in Daun Penh’s Srah Chak commune, after a search by police turned up more than 300 grams of methamphetamine. They accused him of dealing drugs at the Hollywood Hotel in Srah Chak.

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