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

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,