Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Abuse trial of former orphanage boss starts

Abuse trial of former orphanage boss starts

Abuse trial of former orphanage boss starts

The child sex abuse trial of orphanage director and former head of child protection NGO APLE, Hang Vibol, began at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday, with the defendant reportedly testifying that the accusations against him were an attempt at revenge by aggrieved former colleagues.

Judge Kim Ratanarin said that Vibol, 46, the former director of Phnom Penh-based orphanage Our Home, was charged with committing indecent acts against a minor under 15 years old, and had been arrested in March based on complaints from 13 children living under his care.

The hearing was conducted behind closed doors, but Vibol’s attorney, Suy Sokhon, said afterwards that his client had vehemently denied the charges, which he characterised as the product of a vendetta.

“This case originally stemmed from a grudge and contentions between himself and his former staffers, and his former staffers have prepared a plot to destroy him,” Sokhon said.

Vibol blamed the accusations on APLE founder Thierry Darnaudet and ex-staffer Jean Marie Anno, whom he claimed had attempted to embezzle donor money and had become angry at Vibol when he refused to sign fraudulent reports and reported them to the ministries of Interior and Social Affairs, which did not take action.

The two conspired with Our Home staffer Keo Prasethdara – whom Vibol also accuses of engaging in sex acts in front of centre residents – to coach orphans into accusing Vibol of sexually abusing them. Vibol also claimed that photos of him bathing children were taken out of context and used as evidence of abuse.

Contact information for Anno and Prasethdara could not be obtained yesterday, and a request for comment from Darnaudet was not returned as of press time.

At the time of Vibol’s arrest, current APLE executive director Seila Samleang said it was “difficult to believe such a person, who started a mission to protect children more than 12 years ago, can abuse children”. However, Samleang could not be reached yesterday regarding the allegations of embezzlement at the organisation.

Chea Nara, an APLE lawyer representing the alleged victims, said yesterday that it was still too early to say whether Vibol was in fact guilty.

“He has denied the accusations, but until now, we cannot conclude whether he is innocent or not . . . because the court now has only completed questioning one victim, and more victims haven’t been questioned yet,” he said. “So I couldn’t say about this case yet.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Man arrested for fake PM endorsement

    The owner of currency exchange company GCG Asia Co Ltd was temporarily detained by the court yesterday for attempted fraud after Prime Minister Hun Sen reacted to the company using his name and pictures to allege his endorsement of the firm. Phnom Penh Municipal Court

  • Archeologists find ancient phallic statue

    An archeological team has found a metre-long tipless stone linga (penis) of the Hindu deity Shiva in the foundations of a temple in Kratie province’s historical Samphu Borak area, a former capital of the pre-Angkor Empire Chenla period. Thuy Chanthourn, the deputy director of

  • Sihanoukville authority orders structure dismantled

    The Preah Sihanouk provincial administration has ordered owners of two unauthorised construction sites to immediately dismantle them and warned of legal action if the owners failed to comply. Ly Chet Niyom, development management and construction bureau chief at the provincial hall, told The Post on

  • Police seek arrest of Chinese ‘gang’

    Cambodian police remain on the lookout for 20 Chinese nationals who earlier this month posted a video clip threatening to stoke insecurity in Preah Sihanouk province, though the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh maintained the group posed no threats to Cambodia’s national security. National Police