The Mondulkiri Provincial Court yesterday found a Vietnamese national guilty of torturing a 2-year-old boy and sentenced him in absentia to 18 years in prison.
However, Nguyen Tangdung, 34, remains in Vietnamese custody after his Dutch boyfriend, Stefan Struik, 53, encouraged him to flee after videos of the abuse spread on Facebook late last year.
Tangdung was convicted under Article 211 of the Cambodian Criminal Code for torture and acts of cruelty. Many acts of violence, recorded in a total of 48 brutal videos, were listed before the court, including raping the child with a foreign object; using a taser on his head, feet and genitals; blinding him with tiger balm; and forcing a potato-like vegetable down his throat.
Struik was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of 4 million riel (about $1,000) to the state for concealing evidence and failing to report the mistreatment of a child, according to provincial court spokesman Meas Bros.
Bros said Tangdung was also ordered to pay 80 million riel (about $20,000) to the family of the victim.
The boy’s mother, who was in court for the sentencing, said she was satisfied with the result but concerned Tangdung may evade his sentence.
“I told the court to please sentence him as much as you can, because he tortured my child,” she said.
“I want the Vietnamese man to receive the punishment in our country, but I don’t know how. I want my government to get him in our country to serve his sentence, but I am not so hopeful.”
The mother of three relocated her family to Preah Sihanouk province after being offered a job on a mango plantation by tycoon Mong Reththy, she said, adding the toddler was recovering well after the abuse he had faced.
Justice Ministry spokesman Kim Santepheap said he would look into the case but said it was unlikely Vietnam would extradite Tangdung to Cambodia.
The verdict from Tangdung’s Cambodian trial will be sent to Vietnamese authorities next week, he added. Tangdung is currently awaiting trial over the case in Vietnam, where he would face a maximum sentence of three years.
Videos of the toddler’s abuse shocked Cambodians when they surfaced online last year.
The Child Protection Unit’s James McCabe, who assisted authorities with the investigation, welcomed the “justifiable” sentences for Struik and Tangdung.
“The judge has reflected the community outrage at the crime and sentenced the perpetrator accordingly,” he said.
“There is no doubt the Vietnamese authorities and the supreme prosecutor will be informed of the sentence, and negotiations are ongoing as to how he will serve that sentence.”