The Court of Appeal on Friday upheld a verdict by the Battambang Provincial Court sentencing a former Buddhist monk to 18 years imprisonment for raping a 28-year-old British tourist in 2008, officials said yesterday.
Phorn Sophoan, who was 17 years old at the time, was charged in November 2008 after being arrested and defrocked for raping the British woman in a cave in Battambang’s Sampov mountain, a popular tourist destination.
Three appeal court judges decided to uphold the Battambang court’s verdict ordering Phorn Sophoan to serve half his actual 18-year sentence because he was under 18 at the time of the rape, said Chem Veyrith, chief of the trial judges on Friday.
“We upheld the verdict because he was a monk and must strictly obey the [Buddhist] rules…. Secondly he attacked a foreign tourist, which affects Cambodia’s reputation,” Judge Veyrith said, adding that she felt Mr Sophoan’s status as a monk and his crime against a foreign woman were factors that were taken into consideration in the appeal court ruling. “Monks must strictly respect the rules,” she added.
Buth Sambeau, chief of police in Battambang’s Banan district where the attack took place, said that more law enforcement officers had been deployed to Sampov mountain since the rape.
Mr Sambeau said that in 2008 Phorn Sophoan, who was a monk at the time, had offered to act as a tour guide for the woman on an afternoon hike through the caves of Sampov mountain. When they arrived at a secluded cave the monk raped the woman then stole her camera, cell phone and money, Mr Sambeau said.
“Since then we have deployed more police in the area especially in quiet places,” Mr Sambeau said.