Despite an appeal by one of the accused that he is too young to go to prison, the court hands down prison terms of eight years
Cambodia's National Assembly amended the Kingdom’s criminal code on June 7, 2007, to prohibit the incarceration in prison of any person under the age of 13. The measure passed by unanimous vote.
TWO teenage boys were sentenced to eight years in prison and fined US$2,000 after a closed hearing Thursday upheld a 2007 judgment accusing them of raping a nine-year-old girl.
Kheng Sieng Hay and Chim Pisei were accused of raping the girl near their homes in Kampong Cham province in 2006 when they were 14 and 15 years old, respectively.
The appeal, made in May by Kheng Sieng Hay's lawyer Ty Srinna, claimed her client was in fact 11 years old at the time of the rape, making him too young to serve a sentence according to a new criminal code that says minors under age 13 cannot be detained in prison.
"My client has admitted to raping the girl, but he was only 11 years old at the time, according to a family book and school-certified letter," said Ty Srinna of Legal Aid of Cambodia.
It is very worrying that we have a society where a boy... can commit rape.
But the court based its decision on accounts by relatives of the boys, who claimed they were 14 and 15.
"The book that states he is 11 years old is unacceptable because it was produce in order to get rice from their plantation," said Khun Kimlun, the victim's lawyer from Legal Support for Children and Women (LSCW).
Chim Pisei was unable to appeal as his family could not afford a lawyer.
The father of Kheng Sieng Hay, Eng Kheng, said the decision was not fair.
"The court's decision is very unfair to my son because he was only 11 years old and I am very poor and cannot pay for the compensation."
Ty Srinna said his age meant he was not responsible for his acts. "My purpose was for the court to reduce my client's penalty to five years because according to his age he is not responsible for his acts before the law."
The victim's mother, Kin Roun, told the court the boys, who know her daughter, told her to come with them to collect resin from the rubber plantation when the rape occurred.
"The appeal court's decision is very just, and I can accept it for my client," she said Thursday.
But Kek Galabru, president of the human rights group Licadho, said Thursday that she was troubled by the judgement.
"The court's decision to sentence the 14-year-old boy is severe, because a boy's judgment at that age is very poor."
"It is very worrying that we have a society where a boy who is not yet an adult can commit rape."
The boys are being held at Kampong Cham prison.