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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Court stalls on child-sex case

Court stalls on child-sex case

THE Appeal Court yesterday ordered further investigations into the case against a German man accused of having sex with four underage boys in 2006, citing uncertainty about the age of the boys at the time of the alleged crimes.

Alexander Moritz Watrin, 40, was arrested in April 2006 in Sihanoukville and charged with debauchery, a crime that no longer exists, after four boys said they had had sex with him.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay US$5,000 to each of the victims.

In February 2009, the Appeal Court upheld the conviction but cut the sentence by three years, citing a change in child-sex laws.

Following a further appeal at the Supreme Court, the case was sent back to the Appeal Court in April because of a lack of evidence.
Presiding Judge Seng Sivutha said yesterday that the ages of the boys remained in dispute.

“We have ordered further investigation following a request by the Supreme Court to investigate the real ages of the boys,” he said.
Defence lawyer Pich Sorya said he was happy with the decision, and called the case “complex”.

“The decision was made by the Supreme Court to find out the truth whether or not my client has committed these allegations,” he said.

He also said the prosecution lacked evidence, including a doctor’s examination of the victims, and that the only evidence it had was their testimony.

But Samleang Seila, director of child protection NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, questioned that there was a need for further investigation.

“It seems a little strange that it is necessary to investigate the ages of the victims, because the lower court and Appeal Court have already decided that they were all less than 15 at the time of the incident,” he said.

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