The Dutch boyfriend of a Vietnamese national accused of torturing a toddler in disturbing videos that were leaked online this week was charged on Friday with concealing evidence and failing to report the abuse, court officials said.
The charge came after a video of Stefan Struik, 53, was posted online late on Thursday in which he denied any involvement in the crime and offered a rambling explanation as to why he helped Nguyen Thanh Dung, 34, flee to Vietnam once the videos went viral.
Meas Pros, a spokesman for the Mondolkiri Provincial Court, said Mr. Struik was charged by Investigating Judge Ya Narin with “omission to file a complaint against the mistreatment of a minor” and “concealment of evidence.” The charges both carry sentences of between one and three years in prison, and fines of up to 6 million riel, or about $1,500.
So Sovann, a deputy provincial police chief, said Mr. Struik was sent to the provincial prison to await trial.
A video of the Dutchman claiming his innocence was reportedly uploaded to the Facebook page of Mr. Struik’s Netherlands-based elven fantasy fair company Elfia, before later being removed. In the video, which was available on the website of Rotterdam daily newspaper Algemeen Dagblad, Mr. Struik claims he helped Mr. Nguyen go to Vietnam so he could visit the police there and find a woman who may have been linked to the abuse.
“The reason I wanted him to go to the Vietnamese police is because this girl is involved, apparently, and I also had an idea…that she is involved and I find it very important. She’s on the run from the police for another case, just recently, and only the Vietnamese police can find her and connect it to the case,” he says.
“I found it out Monday evening, somebody in Vietnam posted. My big question is who posted it and why? Why it is done? Another question is why Nguyen did this act. It’s something I didn’t see coming at all and I thought I knew him very well,” he says.
It remained unclear on Friday whether Mr. Nguyen would be extradited to Cambodia to face charges. Deputy national police chief Mok Chito said Cambodian officials had traveled to Vietnam to “get the answer.”
The video of the 2-year-old boy being subjected to abuse, including torture with an electric prod, caused an uproar across Cambodian social media on Tuesday, leading to the arrest of Mr. Struik in Kompong Cham province that evening. His boyfriend was detained the following day in Ho Chi Minh City.
In a video interview uploaded to the Facebook page of TVFB, a digital news outlet, on Thursday evening, the boy’s parents say they noticed a physical and psychological change in their son after he went on walks with Mr. Nguyen.
After “the last time, I stopped letting him take my child because when he brought him back there was a bruise on his eye and he couldn’t open both his eyes for a night and a day,” the mother said, adding that the suspect claimed the toddler had fallen.
“He couldn’t eat a lot of rice. He became really weak and he barely could walk,” she said. “He always became frightened when he saw that Vietnamese man. Every time he saw him, he cried.”
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