Blackmail Led to Leaked Toddler Torture Videos, Police Say

Videos of a Cambodian toddler being tortured by a Vietnamese man were leaked online by the suspect’s cousin after the suspect and his Dutch boyfriend refused to pay her a bribe to conceal the harrowing footage, police said on Wednesday.

Outrage spread across social media last week after videos of a 2-year-old Cambodian boy being tortured were posted on Facebook. Police quickly identified 34-year-old Nguyen Than Dung as the alleged abuser, and tracked him down in Ho Chi Minh City after he fled Cambodia.

cam photo child torture
Stefan Struik, left, and Nguyen Dung appear in a video posted to YouTube in January.

So Sovann, deputy Mondolkiri police chief, who went to Vietnam to assist with investigations, said the videos were leaked by a female cousin of Mr. Nguyen after she unsuccessfully attempted to extort money from him and his 53-year-old boyfriend, Stefan Struik.

The Dutchman was arrested last week and charged on Friday with concealing evidence and failing to report the abuse.

According to Mr. Sovann, the cousin obtained some of the videos after Mr. Nguyen asked her to pawn his phone in Vietnam. After discovering the videos, she sent them to her phone and attempted to blackmail Mr. Nguyen and Mr. Struik for 10 million Vietnamese dong, or about $440.

After the couple refused to pay her, the cousin posted the videos online, Mr. Sovann said.

“The Vietnamese man said that he didn’t have money to give,” he said. “No one would know if she hadn’t posted them.”

In her message along with the video, the cousin said that she was exposing the public to the graphic scenes in the hope that the perpetrator would be brought to justice. Police found a total of 49 “sadistic” videos showing torture of the same boy on the suspect’s phone.

Mr. Sovann said he was not sure whether Vietnamese police were attempting to locate the cousin, but believed they would “chase after” her.

Under questioning, Mr. Nguyen, who is currently in jail in Ho Chi Minh, admitted to abusing the child in August and filming it himself, Mr. Sovann said. It was still unclear on Wednesday if Vietnam would extradite the suspect to Cambodia to face trial.

“Maybe they will not return him to us,” he said, adding that the alleged torturer would face a maximum prison term of just three years in his homeland.

If he were to be returned to Cambodia, however, he would face between 10 and 20 years in prison for aggravated torture and acts of cruelty, said San Sopheak, deputy prosecutor at the Mondolkiri Provincial Court.

Justice Ministry spokesman Chin Malin said it was highly unlikely that the Vietnamese authorities would turn the suspect back over to Cambodian officials, despite an extradition treaty existing between the two countries.

“This case will not result in extradition because the person is Vietnamese and they arrested him in Vietnam,” he said. “In general, under international law and the extradition treaty, they don’t extradite their own people.”

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