SIEM REAP PROVINCE
SIEM Reap provincial court on Monday heard the case of Swiss businessman Rudolf Knuchel, who is accused of sexually abusing two teenage boys, and announced that a verdict would be handed down on April 22.
During Monday’s hearing, the lawyer for the 62-year-old Knuchel urged judges to find him not guilty, saying that one of the boys his client is alleged to have abused offered a different story in court than he gave to police at the time of Knuchel’s arrest.
Knuchel, a longtime businessman in Siem Reap, was arrested last August in Siem Reap town and accused of sexually abusing two boys aged 14 and 16.
In the police report, the boy said that Knuchel sexually abused him the first time he visited the man’s home, lawyer Ly Vengheng said.
But in court, the boy testified that he wasn’t assaulted until a later date, Ly Vengheng said, and a doctor’s assessment of the two boys suggested that they did not suffer sexual abuse.
“The crime my client is accused of does not match the victim’s answers today,” Ly Vengheng said.
However, the lawyer acting on behalf of the two boys said the results of the doctor’s assessment was not surprising, and that paedophiles know
how to inflict abuse on children without leaving evidence.
Noun Phanith, who works for the child protection NGO Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE), urged the court to hand down a guilty verdict and harsh punishment.
“I ask the court officials to convict as maximum as possible and expel the man from Cambodia,” Noun Phanith said during his closing statement.
Samleang Seila, the director of APLE, has told the Post that his organisation was observing Knuchel for two years prior to his arrest.
The group has said that Knuchel had been living in a rented Siem Reap villa for two years with young boys.
The group said that Knuchel had been providing support to their families so that they would not bring complaints or testify in court against him.
The two plaintiffs eventually agreed to pursue a case against him last August.
Knuchel was arrested in 2000 for the alleged abuse of two boys in a separate case, but the Siem Reap Provincial Court cleared him of wrongdoing two years later, saying there was not enough evidence to charge him with a crime.