A supreme Court judge labelled a 72-year-old man’s excuse that police threats were the reason he confessed to raping a minor in Kampong Chhnang province in 2013 as “unreasonable”.
Hem Hai, who was ordered by the provincial court to serve a seven-year sentence for the crime, is appealing to the Supreme Court for a lower sentence.
On Wednesday, he told the Supreme Court that he and the victim lived about 100m from each other in the same village in Kampong Leng district. The child’s grandparents were his in-laws, and the young girl often went to his house to play with other children.
He said on the day of the incident in August 2013, his children and the victim were only watching TV together at his house.
“I filed an appeal to the Supreme Court because I want the court to provide me justice. I did not rape the girl as accused. I only confessed to raping her because I was forced to [by police],” he said.
However, presiding Judge Kim Sathavy was unconvinced by his claims of police intimidation.
“Your testimony claiming you confessed due to police threats and intimidation seems unreasonable. You cannot use this as an excuse to protect yourself,” he said.
Defence lawyer Tith Lay said the lower court’s initial verdict was entirely based on his confession, which he claimed was given under duress.
He said the victim’s testimony was inconsistent and cited medical examinations which indicated that the child’s genitals were undamaged.
“Sometimes the victim said she was raped five times . . . sometimes she said she was raped only once. His wife also lived in the same house where the alleged attack occurred, so how did he do it?” he asked.
Lay said his client had already served over five years of his seven-year sentence, and that if Hai had raped the victim, he would not bother filing a complaint to the Supreme Court at this late stage just to restore his reputation.
Prosecutor Chum Samban said the Appeal Court upheld the provincial court’s initial verdict based on Hai’s confession to both the police and the judge.
“The suspect said he was intimidated by the police, but then why did he make the same confession to the judge? I ask the Supreme Court to uphold the Appeal Court’s verdict,” he said.
Judge Sethavy said he will hand down his verdict on January 30.