PHNOM Penh Municipal Court yesterday found a 56-year-old Kandal province layman guilty of raping two women, one who was underage at the time, and sentenced him to 17 years in prison.
Ros Sarin, a layman and director of construction at Sovan Thormareach pagoda in Ponhea Leu district, was arrested by military police last year and charged with raping and committing indecent acts against a 35-year-old woman and a 20-year-old woman. The latter woman was 14 when she was first assaulted.
The attacks date back to 1994. A complaint filed by the victims accused Ros Sarin of assaulting them in 1994, 2003, 2004 and 2009. It also accused him of raping many other women, some of whom were also underage.
During that period, Ros Sarin counselled women on “love problems”, and he often gave them “holy water and magic potions” during these sessions, said defence lawyer Lim Vanna.
The court also found Ros Sarin’s assistant, Heng Samoeun, guilty of serving as an accomplice to the attacks, concluding that he was aware of them. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Judge Duch Kimsorn said the court had ordered both men to pay a total of 50 million riels (US$11,862) in compensation to the two victims.
Te Chamnan, a lawyer for both victims, applauded the ruling. “I am very happy with the court’s decision, which is acceptable and just for the two victims,” he said.
But Lim Vanna said he did not believe there was sufficient evidence to convict his client.
Hang Borey, president of the International Communities Organisation of Cambodia, contended that the complaint was merely a ploy to get money out of Ros Sarin, who as director of construction was responsible for raising money for the pagoda from outside donors.