Belgian’s Lawyer Refutes Rape Charges

The lawyer for a 49-year-old Belgian businessman arrested in Phnom Penh last Saturday on charges of raping his 14-year-old Vietnamese maid blasted Muni­cipal Court Tuesday for detaining his client based on improper procedures and unsubstantiated allegations.

Ang Udom, lawyer for Rudy Demasure, complained Tuesday that his client was arrested without being given a chance to defend himself at a pre-trial hearing. The court also accepted the girl’s stated age without thorough investigation, the lawyer charged.

“[Demasure] accepts they had sex but he asked her age…He asked her age repeatedly, and she said she is 18 years old,” said Ang Udom. The lawyer added that the girl has no documents to prove that she is 14 years old.

Municipal Penal Police Chief Khuon Sophon, however, said Monday that he has collected all the evidence needed to prove the charges, including statements from witnesses that Demasure, chief executive officer of an agriculture investment company called IMMO International Cambodia Co, attempted to buy the girl’s silence after the alleged rape on Feb 7.

“We arrested him because we had all the evidence….That man tried to pay off the girl many times…but was not successful” in getting her to drop the charges, said Khuon Sophon. He said the Belgian’s translator admitted to investigators that he interpreted during the negotiations to pay the girl. Ang Udom wouldn’t comment when asked whether his client tried to pay off the girl.

Khuon Sophon and another senior municipal police official said there was an attempt to interfere in the case from a number of high-ranking government officials close to the accused.

Staff members at the Phnom Penh residence where Dema­sure lived said Tuesday the Belgian and the girl slept together a number of times.

“He did not force her to sleep with him. The girl agreed to sleep with him, but then later she was advised to file a complaint,” said one staff member. The staff member claimed he saw $1,000 change hands between the Belgian and the girl.

Chanthol Oung, director of the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center, said Tuesday that the girl was referred to her organization by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. She said the girl complained that she was raped then fired from her job by Demasure.

Mong Mony Chariya, municipal court investigating judge, said Monday that the Belgian man will be held until the court completes its investigation.

He said the court will investigate the age of the alleged rape victim.

Yim Po, director of the Cambo­dian Center for the Protection of Children’s Rights, welcomed the arrest Monday but said that police should crack down on the children abused daily in karaoke and massage parlors.

“These [karaoke and brothel] owners are our biggest concern,” said Yim Po.

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