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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Lawyer hits out at Scott case "farce"

Lawyer hits out at Scott case "farce"

Lawyer hits out at Scott case "farce"

A foreign lawyer trying to represent Gavin Scott says the British doctor's

prosecution has become a "political tug of war" with little prospect of a fair

trial.

"I'm not sure I'm prepared to legitimize what is a farce by trying

to give this guy a defense," Robert Carlin said on Monday, after unsuccessfully

seeking official approval to represent Scott.

"I don't know that if Jesus

Christ were his lawyer, it would change the outcome. That doesn't mean that he

is going to lose, but that the final decision will be made from high

up.

"I don't want to be the blush on the rotten apple," said Carlin, who

was debating whether to drop the case.

Scott was sent to T3 prison on

June 24 after being charged with raping boys.

Carlin alleged that Scott

had consistently been denied access to a lawyer - violating his rights under

UNTAC law - in police custody and later in prison.

That was enough to

warrant Scott's immediate release from prison, he said. But until Scott had an

approved lawyer, no request for him to be freed could be made.

Carlin was

attempting to get Phnom Penh Municipal Court approval to jointly represent Scott

with a Khmer defender.

He said that, as of Monday (July 10), he had tried

three times to get permission from judge Ya Sokhan, investigating Scott's case.

Each time he had been rebuffed.

In the meantime, Scott had been denied

the right to legal advice, to apply for release or bail, and to receive a copy

of the complaint against him.

Carlin said he had twice been turned away

from T3 Prison when trying to see Scott. He had got inside, with other visitors

to Scott, on two other occasions.

These were not "lawyer-client", private

meetings because other people had been present.

The only other time he

saw Scott was when the doctor first appeared in court on June 23, and was

charged with rape.

The charge followed a complaint to police - relating

to child prostitution, not rape - by NGOs which had testimonies from five

children, aged 14 and 15, against him.

Whether Carlin can represent Scott

is unclear. A recent law bars foreigners from representing criminal defendants,

though they are believed to be free to advise Khmer lawyers.

Carlin, an

English-born former US public defender, arrived in Cambodia a month ago. He is

associated with the Cambodian Defenders Project but is not paid by them, nor

acting on their behalf in Scott's case.

Carlin said Scott "should be free

right now" because UNTAC law allowed the immediate release of inmates whose

procedural rights were violated.

Carlin said he had sought the support of

the British Embassy, but "frankly, their level of aggression and their approach

to this is sorely lacking."

He had also unsuccessfully approached the

United Nations Center for Human Rights, which replied it had no mandate to make

representations on Scott's behalf.

Carlin was most critical of the local

human rights group Licadho, who he said laid the initial police complaint

against Scott.

"I think that someone needs to check their mandate. I have

a huge problem with human rights groups, both overtly and covertly, abrogating

this guy's rights.

"It's no secret that the police were ready to release

Dr Scott for lack of evidence until someone from Licadho jumped up and down and

that decision was miraculously revoked.

"I find that bitterly ironic...

This guy has rights too, and the ends do not justify the means."

Carlin

said that from preliminary inquiries he believed there were "several defects in

the prosecution case" and "huge problems with the credibility of the

witnesses".

He objected to Licadho having housed three of the child

complainants, as that left the opportunity for "manipulation" of them.

He

alleged one of the children had boasted to an employee of Scott's about how he

was being housed and well-fed by Licadho.

Carlin suggested the

complainants were "kids who I suspect are happy to say whatever for whomever,

depending on what they are given to say what needs to be said".

"When

you're dealing with a streetkid, a bed in a nice air-conditioned room - that

could be a pretty good incentive."

Asked about the need to protect the

children, he said: "Why wasn't another agency found to look after the kids? It's

too late now."

Carlin said the charge of rape against Scott was

"ludicrous".

Told that NGOs also wanted Scott charged with having sex

with under-age children, he said: "I don't know the ages of these kids. I don't

know how old they look. I cannot responsibly answer that question until I get

more information."

He said that while NGOs had "made their point" about

pedophilia in Cambodia, Scott had been "hung out to dry because he is a soft

target".

"I think that nobody, including Dr Scott, would deny there is a

[pedophilia] problem but he's not the problem.

"It doesn't make any sense

to make a scapegoat of someone... while the people who are the real problem are

still walking around."

Licadho spokeswoman Naly Pilorge said she knew

nothing about problems with getting a lawyer for Scott, and had believed that he

had a Khmer defender.

"Of course he is absolutely entitled to a defense.

I am surprised he does not have a defender - it's an easy

procedure."

Licadho's mandate was to promote and protect human rights,

which included ensuring all people - defendants and victims - have access to

legal representation.

But in Scott's case, Licadho would have a conflict

of interest if it interfered with the appointment of a defender for

him.

On the issue of the police almost releasing Scott, she said Licadho

had believed the court was in the best position to assess the evidence. It was

the court's decision to charge and detain Scott.

Pilorge said Licadho had

housed three of the five complainants at its offices, until other NGOs had

arranged to accommodate them.

"The first priority had to be protecting

the children, which is different than protecting adults. We couldn't just send

them back on the streets.

"Attempts were made to get government

involvement in caring for these children. Now other NGOs are doing that. We

don't even know where the children are."

The children had been given no

money, only a room to sleep in, food and basic clothes.

Licadho would

never offer any inducement of any kind to any one to give false information,

Pilorge said.

"There is an implication that because they are Khmer and

they are streetchildren, these children are not to be believed.

"These

are not kids who are comfortable. These are abused kids who are scared and don't

know what's going to happen to them.

"We have seen the evidence; we

believe the children and the courts should be left to give him a fair

trial."

Licadho was one of 12 NGOs - members of the group End Child

Prostitution in Asian Tourism (ECPAT) - which compiled the Scott case over five

months.

ECPAT was well-aware that others - foreigners and Khmers - were

involved in the sexual abuse of both boys and girls.

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