Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Further investigation sought

Further investigation sought

Further investigation sought

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday ordered further investigation into the case of a British national charged with purchasing child prostitution, citing a lack of evidence necessary to convict.

Matthew John Harland, 38, was arrested in May 2010 in a rental house in the capital on suspicion of purchasing child prostitution and committing indecent acts against two underage girls in 2006.

Presiding Judge Kor Vandy yesterday called for further investigation into the owner of the house in which Harland was arrested, as well as evidence presented by the child protection NGO Actions Pours Les Enfant.

Vandy also ordered that Harland remain in pre-trial detention until the court reconvenes for the case, though he did not say when the next hearing would be scheduled.

“It was right and just for the judge to order further investigations, because there are gaping holes in the case where the previous investigating judge lacked hard evidence to find him guilty of the charges,” Harland’s defence lawyer Neang Hay said yesterday.

“I hope that the court will free him from the charges in the next hearing if they still cannot find hard evidence to find him guilty because there was much suspicion in the case.”

However Nuon Phanith, a lawyer provided by APLE to represent the victims, said the evidence against Harland was more than adequate for a conviction.

“We don’t oppose the court’s decision to investigate further, but we believe there is already enough evidence to find him guilty under the charges, based on two victims’ testimonies and that of witnesses,” said Phanith.

Harland pleaded not guilty during his last hearing in November and denied all charges against him.

“I knew the girls from along the riverfront, where they sold books. Later, we kept in touch and went swimming at a water park with several other girls ... but I neither committed indecent acts nor purchased child prostitution,” Harland said.

Under the Law on the Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation, Harland could face between seven and 15 years in prison if convicted of purchasing child prostitution, and up to three years if found guilty of committing indecent acts.

MOST VIEWED

  • Temi tourism project approved by the CDC

    The $500.4 million Tourism, Ecological, Marine and International (Temi) tourism project has been approved by the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), according to a notice on its Facebook page on Monday. The project is part of Chinese-owned Union City Development Group Co Ltd’s (

  • Rainsy will return at ‘favourable time’

    Opposition figure Sam Rainsy on Saturday suggested he would not return to Cambodia as he had previously promised, saying that like liberators King Father Norodom Sihanouk and Charles de Gaulle, he would only do so at a “favourable time”. “I will go back to Cambodia

  • NagaWorld casino sees net profit of more than $390M last year

    Phnom Penh’s NagaWorld casino posted a 53 per cent net profit increase last year at $390.6 million, a sum which is almost equal to the combined net profit of all Cambodian commercial banks in 2017. NagaWorld’s parent company, NagaCorp Ltd, is listed on the Hong Kong

  • US Embassy urged to stop ‘disrespecting sovereignty’

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation called on the US Embassy in Phnom Penh on Saturday to respect the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations after it called former opposition leader Kem Sokha “an innocent man” – a move deemed to be “disrespecting Cambodia’s