A German man was convicted yesterday for committing indecent sexual acts against two boys in Phnom Penh’s Chbar Ampov district, but was handed the minimum sentence of one year, meaning he will be free in a matter of months.
Udo Sabiniewicz, 56, was arrested in June for allegedly sexually abusing six boys after the mothers of two of the children filed complaints with the police. Keo Thea, chief of the municipal police’s anti-human trafficking bureau, said at the time that the boys had accused Mr. Sabiniewicz of repeatedly molesting them.
Judge Heng Sokna on Friday ordered Mr. Sabiniewicz to serve “one year in jail for committing indecent assault against children under the age of 15,” and pay $1,000 in compensation to each of the plaintiffs. Mr. Sabiniewicz has already served nine months of his term.
His lawyer, Peung Yok Hiep, said that although the municipal court’s verdict was light, he remained unsatisfied because his client was innocent. He conceded, however, that the defense had struggled to make its case.
“Even though he did not commit the crime, we could not find the evidence or witnesses to clarify that he is innocent,” he said.
Mr. Sabiniewicz, also known as Theodor Symon, said prosecutors and lawyers for the plaintiffs had also failed to prove his guilt.
“There is no evidence, you see there is no evidence,” he said as he was led from the courtroom. “I have been abducted you see. There was no arrest warrant.”
He described his life in prison as “hell” and said he would appeal the decision.
San Sony, an attorney representing the victims, declined to comment.
The mother of one 7-year-old victim said she could not accept the sentence.
“I will appeal because it is injustice for my son. He is very young, but he already had a problem like this,” she said. “I am concerned about the defendant—when he leaves the prison soon, maybe he will do something to my family.”
Khoem Vando, program manager for APLE, also said the sentence was too lenient, as the maximum prison term for committing indecent acts against minors was three years.
“To send a strong and deterring message, the court should give all offenders the maximum punishment,” he said.
Samleang Seila, country director for anti-pedophile group Action Pour Les Enfants, which conducted the initial investigation into Mr. Sabiniewicz, said the families of the additional four alleged victims had decided not to file a complaint because they “did not want to get involved.”