A CAMBODIAN man has been sentenced to three years in prison after he confessed to sexually abusing three underage boys. Human rights advocates believe it is the first time this year Phnom Penh courts have punished a Cambodian man accused of sex crimes against children.
Phong Thanakorn, 47, was sentenced to a maximum three years in prison, fined 3 million riels (US$718) and ordered to pay two of his victims 3 million riels each, Phnom Penh Municipal Court Judge Din Sivuthy said.
Phong Thanakorn had been charged with committing indecent acts against the boys, ages 14 and 15. He was arrested in April after complaints from the victims’ parents.
A lawyer acting for the victims said she welcomed the verdict but questioned why only two of the boys received compensation. A third boy has since died of unknown causes, said lawyer Peng Maneth.
Still, she said, the rare conviction sends a message to local child abusers. “We want to show the public that our organisation not only works on paedophile cases involving foreigners, but on cases against Cambodian men as well,” said Peng Maneth, of the child welfare NGO Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE).
Phong Thanakorn is the only Cambodian who has been convicted of child sex crimes in the past two years, according to statistics compiled by APLE.