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Paedophile sentenced for lesser crime

SIEM Reap provincial court on Thursday sentenced a 62-year-old Swiss man to two years in prison for committing indecent acts against a 14-year-old boy, though a child protection NGO expressed outrage that the man had not been tried for the original charge of having sexual intercourse with a minor.

Judge Nguon Nara said he ordered the convicted businessman, Rudolf Knuchel, to pay a fine of 5 million riels (US$1,199) to the victim, but said Knuchel would not be expelled from the Kingdom after completing his jail term, one year of which was suspended.

Knuchel, a long-time businessman in Siem Reap, was arrested last August in Siem Reap and accused of having sexual intercourse with the 14-year-old victim, along with another boy aged 16.

At a hearing earlier this month, Knuchel’s lawyer, Ly Vengheng, pointed to what he described as inconsistent testimony on the part of the 16-year-old.

Peng Maneth, a lawyer for the child protection NGO Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE), said Thursday that the 16-year-old had since dropped his case.

Peng Maneth also expressed frustration with the court’s decision to pursue the lesser charge. Under Article 34 of the Law on the Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation, engaging in sexual conduct with a minor younger than 15 carries a prison sentence ranging from seven to 15 years.

“It is unacceptable for the court to change from the original charge,” she said.

Ly Vengheng, however, said the guilty verdict was unjust because there was insufficient evidence against his client.

Also Thursday, a 65-year-old Dutch national who founded an education programme in Preah Sihanouk province was questioned in provincial court on charges that he sexually abused more than 10 underage boys.

Cornelius Marinus Joseph Chamuleau has been charged with possessing child pornography, engaging in indecent acts and purchasing child prostitution, said Suon Sophan, deputy chief of the provincial Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Bureau.

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