Sihanoukville Municipal Court Director Svay Sisarouth stood by her decision to free American pedophile suspect Terry Darrell Smith and his girlfriend, Chea Sovannary, 26, despite admitting on Tuesday that both were involved in the sexual abuse of children.
Svay Sisarouth made her comments after interviewing the two girls, aged 13 and 14, whom Smith is accused of having sex with and filming during his months of abuse, which was allegedly facilitated by his girlfriend.
“They are underage,” Svay Sisarouth said.
“The victims said that [Chea Sovannary] had introduced them to [Smith], and one of them is [Chea Sovannary’s] niece,” the judge said by telephone.
But the judge stood by her controversial decision to release Smith and Chea Sovannary from pre-trial detention in August.
“According to the principle of law, we cannot jail sick people when there is a request from the lawyer, and the doctor said that the person needed to be treated,” she said.
The Calmette Hospital doctor who examined Smith’s decades-old head injury denied last month that he recommended the US sex suspect be released from prison.
Pedophile investigators also questioned why Smith’s girlfriend was released.
Smith, 54, was rearrested Sept 20 and is scheduled to be expelled from Cambodia and deported to the US, where he faces 13 outstanding child sexual abuse charges.
Smith’s girlfriend remains free following her release in August.
Anti-pedophile NGO International Justice Mission, which investigated Smith, said that it would continue pushing for Chea Sovannary’s rearrest.
“After our conversation with the judge in Sihanoukville, she is not going to issue a warrant, so we’re going to lobby at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court,” said an IJM official who wished to remain anonymous.