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German man faces molestation charges

PREAH Sihanouk provincial court yesterday tried a German national in absentia on charges of committing indecent acts last year against two boys aged 11 and 14.

Walter Orson Novak, 46, was arrested in March last year from a guesthouse in Sihanoukville, where he was renting a room.

He is accused of taking the boys down to a beach on multiple occasions to molest them, and paying them up to US$5 each time, according to a statement released by child protection NGO Action Pour Les Enfants. He was freed on bail after serving a month of pretrial detention.

Novak was absent during the hearing yesterday, which has been postponed on two previous occasions due to his absence.

But Nuon Phanith, a lawyer provided to the victims by APLE, said the hearing went ahead, with Novak’s lawyer Khun Sophal standing in for his client.

“In my conclusion, I requested that the court sentence the man according to the law because there is enough evidence,” he said.

He requested that the court order his immediate arrest if he is found guilty, and pay a combined $7,000 in compensation to the victim’s families.

If found guilty, Novak faces one to three years in prison.

He said court officials were unaware of Novak’s current whereabouts because he has since changed addresses without notifying local authorities.

Presiding judge  Im Manith said a verdict would be announced on November 25.

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