The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday heard the case of a student accused of having sexual relations with a minor last year.
Keo Manit, 19, from Stung Meanchey III commune in the capital’s Meanchey district, said he and the girl were actually involved in a romantic relationship. Because they were neighbours, he often sneaked into her home at night to engage in sexual activities.
He said when their parents discovered the relationship, his parents asked the girl’s family to allow them to get married, but the latter refused because of his drug addiction. Due to their refusal, the couple eloped to Takeo province where the girl got pregnant but miscarried.
While living together, Manit said they were unable to support themselves due to a lack of financial resources, forcing them to return home. Three days later, the girl’s parents sued Manit leading to his arrest on July 10 of this year.
Manit was charged for violation of Article 42 for having sexual intercourse with a minor under 15 years and Article 9 of the Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation for the unlawful removal of a minor.
“We love each other but her parents were against it. I ask the court to release me and allow us to get married,” said Manit.
Sung Lyheng, the plaintiff’s lawyer, said the accused had sexual intercourse with his client several times at her home in Phnom Penh and in Takeo until she got pregnant and miscarried twice.
“I request severe punishment from the court and demand 40 million riel as compensation,” said Lyheng.
Deputy prosecutor Sin Virak said the accused and the girl confessed to cohabitating and said there was no law preventing people from living together. However, the girl’s birth certificate obtained from local authorities confirmed that the girl was a minor under the age of 15.
“The laws do not prevent people from living together. But this case involves a minor so he must be prosecuted. I suggest that the judges’ council uphold the charges of the investigating judge,” he said.
Seng Monpunlork, the defendant’s lawyer, said his client was in love with the victim and asked the judges’ council to consider the case in accordance with the law.
Judge Ky Rithy said the verdict will be announced on December 25.