The Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced an Australian man to five years in prison Thursday for sexually abusing six boys between the ages of 3 and 13 in 2013 and 2014.
Presiding Judge Kor Vandy said that George Moussallie, 52, a former English teacher, was also ordered to pay a fine of 5 million riel (about $1,250) and compensate two of his victims with 5 million riel each.
“Second, [the court] bans George Moussallie, aka George, an Australian, from staying in Cambodia after he serves his prison term,” he added.
Mr. Moussallie, who taught at the private American Pacific School in Phnom Penh, was arrested in August at his rented home in Daun Penh district for having sex with and molesting the boys, who police said had worked as beggars on the riverside.
During Mr. Moussallie’s trial in February, Judge Vandy said police had found naked photos of the Australian’s victims on his hard drive, including photos of an unidentifiable man having sex with some of the boys.
Suy Chhunhak, Mr. Moussallie’s lawyer, said Thursday that he believed the boys were coached by anti-pedophile NGO Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE), which assisted police in their investigation, to testify against his client.
“Some children were just 3 years old. How could they answer so clearly?” Mr. Chhunhak said.
During his trial, Mr. Moussallie himself accused APLE of falsifying evidence and planting photos on his hard drive, although he did admit to taking pictures of the children while they were bathing at his rental home. “I did not make child porn. I only took their photos when they took a shower,” Mr. Moussallie said at the time.
Chhuon Sithann, an APLE lawyer who represented the victims, said Mr. Moussallie’s allegations were false.
“APLE has helped with so many cases already and we work very hard every day,” Mr. Sithann said. “If APLE created more cases, it would put a burden on itself.”
“The accusations were just an excuse from the accused in an attempt to get free from the charges,” he added. Mr. Sithann also complained that Mr. Moussallie’s sentence was too lenient.
“I think the sentence of five years in prison is still insufficient; it is the shortest [possible] sentence for the act,” he said.
Mr. Moussallie was convicted under articles 42 and 43 of the anti-human trafficking law, which carry sentences of five to 10 years and one to five years, respectively.