A 20-year-old was convicted yesterday for “abducting” his girlfriend, a 13-year-old princess from the Norodom branch of the royal family, to live with him in Thailand last year.
Ny Visal was sentenced to five years in prison and laid with a 5 million riel ($1,250) fine for taking the girl from her family home in Phnom Penh in May 2013.
Heng Sokna, the presiding judge at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, said that Visal had been charged with “unlawful removal of a minor”, under the law on anti-human trafficking and sexual exploitation. He was given the maximum sentence.
The judge specified that he was also guilty of having sex with a minor though he only laid one charge.
Sok Savuth, an anti-trafficking police officer, said that Visal was arrested in Thailand on June 15 last year after the girl’s mother filed a complaint that her daughter had been there with him for more than two weeks.
“He abducted the victim, who is his underage girlfriend, from her family in Phnom Penh to live with him in Thailand,” he said.
Visal said yesterday that the young woman had chosen to live with him and that he had not abducted her.
“She was my girlfriend and she was not underage,” he said outside the courtroom.
“When we started loving each other, she told me that she was 16 years old. And we both had loved each other for over a year before we were separated by her family because they disliked me . . . I was poor.”
She had “loved me and she wished to live with me”, Visal continued, leading to her eventually running away from her family and meeting him at the border town of Poipet.
According to Proeun Srey Rath, Visal’s mother, the pair had met while Visal was studying cooking in Phnom Penh and lived near the royals’ house.
“They both had loved each other very much, but the girl’s parents disliked my son and my family because they were from the King’s family and were rich, but my family are farmers and we are poor,” she said.
In early 2014, Visal went to Thailand to work in construction, she added, with his would-be girlfriend attempting to commit suicide “several times” by taking medicine when he was away.
Neither the girl’s family nor her lawyer could be reached for comment yesterday.