An Australian teacher charged with sexually abusing six young boys claimed during the first day of his trial at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court Tuesday that an anti-pedophile NGO framed him.
George Moussallie, 52, a former English teacher at the American Pacific School in Phnom Penh, was charged in September with molesting and having sex with children under the age of 15. The alleged abuse occurred at the defendant’s rented home in Daun Penh district.
During Tuesday’s trial, Presiding Judge Kor Vandy told the court that police had confiscated Mr. Moussallie’s hard drive and found photos of the naked victims, who were between the ages of 6 and 12.
Mr. Vandy said police also found photos of a man, whose face was not visible, having sex with the boys.
One of the victims, who spoke to the courtroom through a video link while sitting in a separate room at the courthouse, said the Australian had sex with him multiple times.
“He kept me on the bed and told me to take my clothes off,” said the boy, now 13.
“He had sex with me about 20 times.”
Addressing the court through a Khmer-language translator, Mr. Moussallie claimed his hard drive had been stolen and that someone else had transferred the images onto it.
He also accused anti-pedophile NGO Action pour les Enfants (APLE), which assisted police during their investigation into him, of falsifying evidence.
APLE’s deputy director of field operations, Khoem Vando, said Mr. Moussallie’s claims were baseless.
“Normally, the accused blames others to clear himself,” he said. “If he is going to accuse us like that, please show evidence.”
During questioning by the court, Mr. Moussallie both denied having sex with minors and producing child pornography.
“I only took a shower and I did not do anything to them,” Mr. Moussallie told the court. “I did not make child porn, I only took their photos when they took a shower.”
When Mr. Moussallie was charged in September, police said his victims worked as beggars on the riverside.
On Tuesday, Mr. Moussallie said he met some of the boys on his first visit to Phnom Penh in 2009.
“When I saw them, I felt sorry for them and wanted to rescue them,” he said.
Mr. Moussallie’s trial is scheduled to continue on March 6.