In Court, Suspects in Gang Rape Case Say Sex Was Consensual

Five men charged with gang raping a 19-year-old woman in December denied the charges during their trial at Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday, claiming the sex was consensual.

Long Ravuth, Phann Chanthoeun, Sar Thun, all 24, and Ya Sokhom, 25, appeared in court Monday, but the fifth suspect, Chhon Channet, is at large and is being tried in absentia.

The suspects allegedly met the victim on December 10 in Phnom Penh while drinking beers together at a local sausage shop in Pur Senchey district’s Choam Chao commune, they told the court Monday.

Mr. Ravuth said he asked the young woman for her phone number and called her later that day to invite her to join him for an evening out. He picked her up on his motorbike and drove her to a quiet, forested area in nearby Boeng Thom commune, he said, where he and the other men took turns having sex with her—with her permission.

“It was consensual sex,” Mr. Chanthoeun, another defendant, told the court. “We had sex with her one at a time; she did not resist.”

Chout Vanchan, the court clerk, read aloud a document submitted by the victim, who did not appear in court, claiming she was raped by six men she did not know.

“They rushed me, took off my pants and shirt and then raped me,” the document says. “They raped me one by one.”

Mr. Vanchan also read the results of a medical examination of the victim, which found that the victim’s hymen had been torn.

The clerk said the victim is requesting a total of $2,000 in compensation and jail terms for the suspects.

Deputy prosecutor Keu Bunnara asked the court to punish the suspects under Article 240 of the criminal code, which states that rape is punishable by between seven and 15 years in prison.

A verdict in the case will be announced on December 2.

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