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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sex crimes appeal delayed

Sex crimes appeal delayed

Sex crimes appeal delayed

090609_05.jpg
090609_05.jpg

Hearing for five convicted in brutal paedophile case, including two Germans, suspended for a second time, prompting complaints from the victims' lawyer.

Photo by: Heng Chivoan

Karl Heinz Henning at the Appeal Court on Monday. The hearing was subsequently delayed.

THE Court of Appeal on Monday suspended a hearing for two German nationals and three Vietnamese who were convicted of human trafficking and debauchery in 2007, citing a lack of defence lawyers. 

Following a massive August 2006 police raid on the house of one of the German nationals, the five were arrested and sentenced for their roles in trafficking and abusing underage Vietnamese girls.

They are appealing their sentences, which could be reduced under new anti-trafficking legislation that has already seen several convicted sex offenders have their prison terms slashed.

The reputed mastermind of what authorities said was one of the most brutal paedophilia rings busted so far in Cambodia, German Karl Heinz Henning, who was 61 at the time of his arrest, hurled himself from a first-floor window in a bid to escape police officials.

He survived the fall, and was sentenced to 28 years in March 2007 for trafficking and debauchery - the blanket charge that covered child-sex crimes under the Kingdom's old anti-trafficking laws.

At Henning's house, police seized vast amounts of sadomasochistic child pornography - primarily images and footage of Henning and other older Western men whipping and raping bound children.

Also during the raid, authorities rescued four Vietnamese girls found naked in the house and confiscated pornographic videocassettes and VCDs, together with film production equipment.

The four girls rescued during the raid were aged 10, 11, 13 and 14 at the time.

Evidence of more abuse

Thomas Sigwart Eugen Baron von Engelhardt, 44, who was identified on the basis of evidence found at Henning's apartment, was sentenced March 2007 to 12 years in prison for debauchery.

Two Vietnamese women and one Vietnamese man were also sentenced in the 2007 trial.

Cheng Thit You and Nguyen Hong Voeng were given 17 years apiece, while Lim Ny received 15 years, all for human trafficking.

All five were seen Monday at the Court of Appeal, as were three of the four Vietnamese victims, who were wearing school uniforms and accompanied by a lawyer.

"I am terribly sorry the Appeal Court has suspended the hearing again, which is the second time that this procedure has been delayed," said lawyer Peng Maneth, who is provided by Action Pour Les Enfant, the anti-paedophile NGO that was involved in the 2006 raid.

 "The delay makes it difficult for the victims to prepare themselves to testify at the hearings. It is stressful, and they are also busy with their studies."

Lack of lawyers causes delay

According to the presiding judge, Chaem Vicharit, the delay was due to the lack of lawyers for the Vietnamese women and men. "We will appoint lawyers for them for the next hearing because they couldn't afford lawyers by themselves," she told the Post.

Since 2003, more than a dozen foreigners have been jailed or deported to face trial in their home countries for child sex crimes. The two Germans worked as private English teachers in Cambodia. Police arrested Henning after receiving complaints from neighbours about the abuse.

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