A 44-YEAR-OLD American man convicted of committing indecent acts against two underage sisters over a period of several years might serve fewer than 10 more days of his seven-month sentence due to the length of his pre-trial detention, Phnom Penh Municipal Court ruled on Friday.
Judge Seng Neang said that though he may have technically sentenced Scott Alan Hecker to two years in prison, the defendant was only required to spend seven months behind bars before finishing out his sentence on probation.
Those seven months, in turn, would be measured “from the time of [Hecker’s] arrest on July 23, 2009”, nearly cancelling out the prison term entirely. The judge also ordered Hecker to pay 4 million riels (around US$963) as a fine.
Peng Maneth, a lawyer provided for the plaintiffs by anti-paedophile NGO Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE), condemned the sentence as far too lenient.
“We intend to bring this case before the general prosecutor of the Appeal Court, and will seek high-level means of expelling the man from Cambodia for fear that he might resume sexual abuse against other girls,” Peng Maneth said.
Meanwhile, the lawyers for the defence insisted that the lack of proof outside the uncertain testimony of his victims meant that Hecker should have been acquitted outright.
Scott Alan Hecker was arrested in the capital’s Daun Penh district after he was found with two underage sisters, who claimed to have been in some form of relationship with the man since meeting him in Preah Sihanouk province in 2006.