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

  • Rainsy vow to return on Nov 9 dismissed as ‘political warfare’

    An announcement from the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) that its “acting president” Sam Rainsy would return to the Kingdom on November 9 was dismissed on Sunday as “political warfare”. The CNRP made the announcement on Friday after a permanent committee meeting chaired by

  • Kingdom rejects VN request

    Cambodia rebuffed Vietnam’s request to provide nationality to its citizens living in Kratie, Mondulkiri, Ratanakiri and Stung Treng provinces, with officials saying law enforcement is the Kingdom’s responsibility. Chheang Vun, the head of the National Assembly’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation,

  • Official transferred after pointing at car with foot

    The deputy director of the Siem Reap provincial Registration and Driver’s Licence Unit at the Department of Public Works and Transport who last week pointed at the number plate of a car taken in for a technical check with her foot has been transferred.

  • PM sues Rainsy in Paris court

    Prime Minister Hun Sen and Dy Vichea, the deputy chief of the National Police, filed lawsuits against Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), for defamation in a Parisian court on Tuesday. The court action comes after Rainsy,