NGO Claims Interference in Sex Crime Case

The Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center claimed Friday that a systematic campaign by foreign supporters of Australian Bart “Lucky” Lauwaert prompted nine of his alleged victims to recant their accusations against him at the Appeals Court on Thursday.

Nine of the 10 girls and women who in February 2002 testified that Lauwaert had sexually abused them while they worked as his maids dropped their accusations at his appeal, and accused the CWCC of convincing them to lie.

“This is an organized plan by the perpetrator’s group to put blame on the CWCC,” said CWCC Executive Director Chan­thol Oung.

She added that none of the CWCC lawyers who had represented the females from the start of his case were invited to the hearing. “We are involved in this case. We should get notice from the court to monitor it,” she said.

Appeals Court Judge Thou Mony said the CWCC was invited.

The nine witnesses arrived in a minibus at the invitation of the court. Thou Mony said he was uncertain who had organized the trip. Lauwaert’s lawyer Dy Borima also said he did not know who had arranged the witnesses’ transport.

Lauwaert’s case has attracted at least one group of supporters lobbying for his release. The Web site www.inquisition21.com, which claims to represent people opposed to “absolutist” doctrines relating to sex abuse and child pornography, has an ongoing campaign in support of Lauwaert.

The Web site ran a report on Lauwaert’s Thursday’s appeal stating, “The brave Cambodian girls stood firm.”

The report was accompanied by a photo of eight girls holding an English-language banner reading: “Bart Lauw­aert=innocent CW­CC=guilty!”

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