Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Underage sex trial concludes

Underage sex trial concludes

Underage sex trial concludes

Phnom Penh Municipal Court concluded its trial today against a British national accused of purchasing sex from two underage girls.

The 38-year-old suspect, Matthew John Harland, was arrested last May in a Meanchey district guesthouse on suspicion of purchasing child prostitution and committing indecent acts in 2006.

Presiding judge Kor Vandy said a verdict would be announced on March 10.

“We hope that after this final hearing, we will find the truth and issue the right verdict for him,” he said.

Keo Thea, director of the municipal Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Office in the Ministry of Interior, said the suspect was arrested after the two girls’ families filed complaints against him through the NGO Actions Pour Les Enfants. He also accused the suspect of producing hundreds of photos of child pornography in the country.

Nuon Phanith, a lawyer provided by APLE to represent the victims, said the suspect paid them between US$50 and $100 for sexual acts.

“According to two victims’ testimonies, they both had sex with him at least three times in 2006,” he said.

Harland maintained his innocence at today’s trial, saying: “I did not have sex with [the girls].

“I have known them from along the riverfront in Phnom Penh, where they sold books,” he said. “Later, we kept in touch and rented a tuk-tuk and went to swim at a water park with several other girls in Phnom Penh.”

In December, the municipal court sought further investigation in the case, citing a lack of evidence necessary to convict.

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

  • Oil producers see oversupply

    Major oil producers said on Sunday that crude supply next year would outstrip demand, calling for new strategies based on production adjustments. Khalid al-Falih, Energy Minister of the world’s top supplier Saudi Arabia, said the kingdom would cut its production by 500,000 barrels per day (

  • ‘Historic’ Khmer Rouge tribunal Case 002/2 verdict to be delivered

    The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) are to deliver the verdict on Friday, in the trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, in a pronouncement hailed as a “historic event for Cambodia and the world”. The verdict from

  • Record set for world’s longest dragon boat

    Cambodia broke the world record for the longest dragon boat – a title previously held by China, Guinness World Records adjudicator Pravin Patel said on Monday. He verified the record on the east bank of the Mekong river, in Prey Veng province’s Peamro district. “With

  • Analyst: Government appointments ‘a waste of national budget’

    The government has appointed over 200 officials as undersecretaries of state, secretaries of state, assistants and advisers at various institutions since October 1. While senior officials said the appointments were aimed at ensuring higher efficiency at the national level, social analysts said the practice is merely power-sharing