The Appeal Court on Tuesday ruled to reduce the sentence of Yim Sopheap from eight years in prison to five for the aggravated rape of two 10-year-old girls in Kandal province’s Takhmao town in 2016.
The Trial Chamber noted that a witness claiming to have seen Sopheap touching the genitals of the two girls had come forward during his original trial in July 2017.
Sopheap’s defence lawyer Im Mach said on Tuesday that The Kandal Provincial Court had charged his client with raping the girls, despite a lack of evidence.
Mach argued that Sopheap’s charge should be reduced to sexual assault if he had penetrated the girls with his fingers rather than his penis.
He told The Post that the Kandal Provincial Court had ordered police to provide a medical letter but no such document was ever produced, even after the Appeal Court re-launched the investigation.
“We found no evidence of rape. Even though the Appeal Court ruled to reduce the sentence, my client will still not accept the five year sentence,” Mach said.
Provincial Court records said that Sopheap was renting a part of a home belonging to one of the victims’ adopted mother in Takhmao commune when the incidents occurred.
One of the 10-year-old victims said Sopheap had lured her with candy before dragging her into a storage room and molesting her on December 12, 2016.
“He did this five times. Each time he threatened me not to tell anybody,” she said in court records.
The mother, a noodle vendor, filed a police report after a teacher reported that the victim had come to class with a blood-stained skirt.
A second 10-year-old victim told police that the Sopheap had fondled her chest three times, the court record said.
Both girls’ guardians filed police reports on December 18, 2016, and police arrested Sopheap on December 24.
In June 2017, the Kandal provincial court sentenced him to eight years in prison for rape and ordered him to compensate each victim with three million riel ($750).