Hang Vibol, the former head of anti-pedophile NGO Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE) who stands accused of sex crimes against boys under his care, said on Thursday that he would fight until his last breath to bring down the organization that he helped build.
Mr. Vibol, 46, was the inaugural director of APLE but left in 2005 to run the Our Home orphanage in Phnom Penh, where he allegedly abused 11 boys in his care. He was arrested in March following an APLE investigation and was charged by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court with multiple counts of indecent acts against minors.
In court for the third day of his closed-door trial, Mr. Vibol echoed previous accusations against APLE, which he accuses of fabricating the claims as payback for rejecting the sexual advances of Thierry Darnaudet, the organization’s co-founder, and for filing a child sex abuse complaint against the Frenchman, according to his lawyer, Suy Sokhon.
He admitted to touching the genitals of children in his care, but said there was nothing sexual or devious about the contact.
“Caring for the children is his duty, such as giving them a bath, and treating with medicine, so he had to touch them,” Mr. Sokhon said afterward.
Ho Lyhow, another defense lawyer, called into question the testimony of the alleged victims, whom he said would only have been 1 or 2 years old in 2009, when they were supposedly abused. The victims, however, are now aged between 13 and 27, making the lawyer’s assertion, and math, incorrect.
San Sony, an APLE lawyer representing the victims, dismissed Mr. Vibol’s arguments.
“His position is director…. Usually the director has a person in charge of bathing the children,” Mr. Sony said. “But he took a chance to take the children for baths…like parents would. Is it appropriate or not?”
As he was being ushered from the courtroom to a prison van, Mr. Vibol vowed not to give up the fight against the NGO.
“I will not let APLE be free and I will fight until the end of my life,” he shouted. “APLE will end one day.”