A lawyer representing convicted Dutch pedophile Rene Paul Aubel said Monday that he had filed a lawsuit at Phnom Penh Municipal Court accusing two men of cheating his client out of $9,000 in a deal that involved securing the Dutchman’s release from prison.
Attorney Theng Meng Y said he had filed the fraud suit against Heng Saravuth and Prey Sar prison guard Hun Sokchiv earlier this month, but could not recall the exact date.
According to Mr Meng Y, Mr Saravuth, working through Mr Sokchiv, had identified himself as a lawyer to the imprisoned Dutchman, whose 10-year sentence for sexually abusing six young boys was upheld by the Supreme Court in February.
Despite having handed over the $9,000 in 2006 to gain his release, Mr Aubel decided to file the lawsuit this month because he recently learned that Mr Saravuth was never a lawyer and has fled with his cash, Mr Meng Y said. He added that the court had summoned Mr Saravuth and Mr Sokchiv for questioning on Wednesday.
“The cheaters posed themselves as a lawyer to swindle $9,000 to help [Mr Aubel be] released,” Mr Meng Y said.
He added that the payment was not an attempt by Mr Aubel to bribe his way out of prison. “It was not the money for the release; it was the legal service fee,” he claimed.
Deputy Prosecutor Hing Bunchea confirmed on Monday that he had received the complaint, but said he was too busy to discuss it in detail.
Contacted by telephone Monday, Prey Sar prison Director Mong Kim Heng said that Mr Aubel had asked Mr Sokchiv, who still works as a guard at the prison, to find a “broker” to gain his release.
“[Mr Aubel] asked for help to run paperwork, so [Mr Sokchiv] took $9,000 and gave it to another person—[Mr Sokchiv] was just a middleman,” Mr Kim Heng said.
“The broker took $8,000 and gave [Mr Sokchiv] $1,000,” he said, adding that Mr Saravuth, the broker, had since fled.
Mr Kim Heng added that as prison director he would not do anything regarding Mr Sokchiv’s actions, despite saying that it is illegal to act as broker. “It is a matter of the court,” he added.
Samleang Seila, country director of anti-pedophile NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, said that he was aware of about five other cases wherein foreign men paid money for failed attempts to get themselves released from jail.
“There is a problem at the prison that when foreigners arrive, there are usually introductions about lawyer services,” Mr Seila said of the scams.