Child Abuse Trial of Anti-Pedophile Group’s Founder Continues

The closed-door trial of a former anti-pedophile campaigner, who stands accused of sexually abusing 11 boys himself, continued in Phnom Penh on Friday with testimony from eight of the defendant’s alleged victims, according to the man’s lawyer.

Hang Vibol, who was a director of Action Pour les Enfants (APLE) before leaving in 2005 to run the Our Home orphanage in Phnom Penh, was arrested in March and charged with indecent acts against children in his care following a monthslong investigation by APLE.

Suy Sokhon, a lawyer for Mr. Vibol, said that Friday’s hearing saw eight of the boys he is ac­cused of molesting—now aged be­tween 13 and 27—give testimony, along with one witness who was unknown to the defendant.

“[The girl], 9, answered that my client committed crimes but she did not see with her own eyes, she just heard from other people,” Mr. Sokhon said. “‘Where did this witness come from?’ my client asked. He does not know this witness at all.”

Sorn Sony, the APLE lawyer representing the children in the case, could not be reached.

Presiding Judge Kim Rathnarin declined to comment. Kol Bon, the deputy prosecutor who laid the charges against Mr. Vibol, said he was no longer involved with the case and did not know who was handling the prosecution.

The eight alleged victims of Mr. Vibol told the court Friday that he had molested them, but no hard evidence was presented, Mr. Sokhon said.

“There is no security camera footage to prove that my client committed this crime,” he said. “Answers of victims alone are not proof of a crime.”

Mr. Vibol has claimed that the case against him was fabricated on the orders of Thierry Darn­au­det, the French founder of APLE and a former close friend, in retaliation for Mr. Vibol’s making child abuse allegations against his former boss with the ministries of interior, so­cial affairs and foreign affairs.

Mr. Darnaudet, who stepped down as the head of APLE in 2014 and is believed to be living in India, has denied those claims, as has Samleng Seila, the current director.

“I can comment on this because I was there,” Mr. Seila said last year. “Mr. Thierry came to Cam­bodia and met with the ministries and walked away having convinced them that the allegations were false.”

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