Two days after the Phnom Penh Municipal Court dropped charges against Ernst Ivankowitsch, the 73-year-old Austrian who had been accused of sexually abusing a Cambodian girl, local human rights group Licadho has called for a follow-up to the case.
“This is one of the strongest cases I’ve been exposed to,” Licadho Director Naly Pilorge said. “The verdict is outrageous, and I hope that the general prosecutor will appeal the verdict and the bail motion.”
Ivankowitsch was discovered in his Phnom Penh hotel room with a naked girl on Nov 6. The girl said at the time that she was 14 years-old and had been abused by the Austrian man since she was 9.
Despite evidence of the victim’s age, “which is in the family book—an official document,” Pilorge said, and despite evidence of past sexual relations between the victim and the suspect, including a statement from Ivankowitsch, Judge Ham Mengse on Friday dismissed the case, citing a lack of evidence.
The parents of the girl have said the girl is 16.
Ham Mengse on Friday ruled that the girl “is really 16,” and Ivankowitsch “is really not guilty.”
Without a lawyer to represent her, the young girl on Friday denied she ever had sex with Ivankowitsch, contradicting the testimony she had given earlier to court and police investigators.
Because the parents, who in recent years have received thousands of dollars from the suspect, are supporting their child’s alleged offender, “the only person who can do anything now is the general prosecutor,” Pilorge said.
After having been under the care of the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center for nearly a month, the girl is back with her family, Pilorge said.