PHNOM Penh Municipal Court yesterday heard the case of a Kandal province layman who has been accused of raping multiple women, some of them underage, in attacks dating back to 1994.
Ros Sarin, a 56-year-old layman at Sovan Thormareach pagoda in Ponhea Leu district, and his assistant, Hang Samoeun, were arrested by military police last year.
Both face two counts of rape and committing indecent acts against a 37-year-old woman and a 14-year-old girl in her care.
A complaint filed last year by the 37-year-old accuses the two men of raping many other women and girls in addition to her and her care.
The 37-year-old has said that she was staying with Ros Sarin at the pagoda when the attacks began in 1994, and that the accused forced her to live at the pagoda until 2005.
“In 1994, while I was sleeping after midnight, Ros Sarin came into my room and forcibly tore my shirt and raped me completely. After the rape he warned me to not tell the story to anyone,” the complaint says.
“Ros Sarin raped me repeatedly until I got pregnant in 1997. I was forced to get an abortion to cover up the story.”
The hearing, which was conducted yesterday behind closed doors, is scheduled to continue today with testimony from more than 20 witnesses on both sides.
Ros Sarin’s defence lawyer, Chan Vichet, said after yesterday’s session that the prosecution lacked enough evidence to convict his client.
He said the victim told the court yesterday that Ros Sarin raped her 20 times per month between 1994 and 2005, and claimed it did not make sense for her to have waited until 2009 to file her complaint.
“This is an unbelievable and fabricated story,” Chan Vichet said.
He said that he believed the complaint was just a ploy to get money out of Ros Sarin, who as director of construction is responsible for raising money for the pagoda from outside donors.
Hang Borey, president of the International Communities Organisation of Cambodia, echoed this claim.
“Her purpose is to own the pagoda’s real estate property and to take the aid money that is pouring in, amounting to more than US$10,000 each year from overseas,” Hang Borey said.
Prosecutors said that Ros Sarin facedbetween 10 and 15 years in prison if convicted of the crimes.