The Appeal Court on Wednesday heard the case of a 14-year-old boy who was sentenced in early 2017 to three years behind bars for the rape of a three-year-old girl the previous year in the capital’s Tuol Kork district.
Held behind closed doors, the hearing was presided over by Judge In Vanvibol and attended by the victim and her father, as well as the appellant’s mother.
After the hearing, Sin Chantha, the boy’s mother, quoted the victim’s father as telling the judge that he had found out about the rape after giving the girl a shower and noticing blood on her legs.
His daughter told him she had been raped by the boy, who lived next door.
“The girl’s father told the judges that although he did not witness the rape with his own eyes, he asked the court to uphold the guilty verdict,” Chantha said.
She said that before the incident in August 2016, her family had rented a room in Tuol Kork district’s Tuol Kork commune and befriended the victim’s family, who lived in an adjacent room.
The incident, she said, occurred while she and her husband were away working in construction, leaving the boy alone.
On returning home, they found that the young girl’s father had alleged their son had raped his daughter and filed a complaint with Military Police.
The boy was initially sent to the municipal Department of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation as he was a minor.
The Military Police, however, referred the case to the municipal court after the social affairs department refused to accept the boy.
“A truckload of Military Police officers came to arrest my son and detained him for two days. Then they asked my husband to thumbprint a document saying my son had confessed to the rape. But my husband refused because he couldn’t verify if he had actually admitted to the rape,” Chanta said.
She said the municipal court sentenced her son in early 2017 to three years in prison and ordered the family pay 12 million riel ($3,000) in compensation to the girl’s family.
However, the court has not imprisoned her son because he is a juvenile, she said.
Maintaining his innocence, the boy’s mother called on the Appeal Court to overturn the guilty verdict. She cited the result of a medical examination used during the hearing that showed no semen had been found on the victim’s genitals.
Defence lawyer Ken Vibol also called on the court to quash the sentence handed down to the 14-year-old, who had been learning to repair motorbikes at a local NGO in Phnom Penh.
The Appeal Court will announce its verdict on July 19.