PHNOM Penh Municipal Court on Monday sentenced a teacher at a Christian school in the capital to 10 years in prison for raping a 9-year-old Vietnamese girl, and ordered him to pay her 4 million riels (US$952) in compensation.
Kham Kosal, a 35-year-old teacher at the Good News For Hope School in Meanchey district’s Chbar Ampov commune, was arrested on November 20 last year following a complaint lodged by the victim’s mother. The complaint stated that the victim was raped in a bathroom at the school on November 17 during a break between classes.
Khour Long, the defendant’s lawyer, on Monday blasted the verdict as “unjust”, saying the girl was absent from school on the day the attack allegedly occurred, a claim he also made during a hearing late last month.
“There was not enough evidence, and my client did not rape the girl,” he said. “I have proved to the court during a hearing on May 26 that the girl was absent on November 17. She didn’t come to school, and this was supported by several classmates during every level of the investigation.”
He accused the girl and her family of concocting the story in a bid for compensation, and said no witnesses had come forward to support her claim.
But Yim Thavy, a lawyer provided to the victim by local NGO Legal Support for Children and Women, said Khour Long’s attempt to discredit the girl was baseless.
“I welcome the court’s conviction, which found justice for the victim, because she really did not lie about the rape,” she said.
She took issue with the sentence, however, saying that, because the victim was under 14 at the time of the attack, he should have been given a jail term of between 15 and 20 years under the 2001 Law on Aggravating Circumstances for Felonies.
Khour Long said he did not know whether his client would appeal.