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Sexual Abuse: Rape suspect released from detention

A man awaiting trial for the alleged rape of a 16-year-old girl was released from pre-trial detention by Cambodia’s Supreme Court on Wednesday, prompting outrage from rights activists. Judge Khim Pon ruled in favour of the 37-year-old Korean national’s appeal after the defence and prosecution agreed that, because the defendant was a foreigner and had effectively been guaranteed by the Korean embassy, he should be released. Co-defence lawyer Than Phanith said the court’s decision relied on the embassy’s guarantee “not to renew [the defendant’s] passport because he cannot be trusted or relied on, as these were felony crimes.” The suspect was arrested on charges of sexual assault and unlawful removal with purpose after he allegedly raped a girl who had been drugged, abducted and sold to him by a Cambodian couple. Nuon Phanith, a lawyer provided for the victim by NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, condemned the court’s decision. “I am very unhappy … for fear the man will commit more crimes, intimidate the victim or witnesses, or fail to appear in court,” he said.

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