NGOs Bracing for Battle With Alleged Swiss Sex Offender

The Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center said it is prepared to defend itself in court following the release earlier this month of a statement by a Swiss sex suspect claiming the organization was part of a conspiracy to frame him.

The director of the women’s crisis center said Thursday that both her organization and a German organization, Terre des Hommes, are aware of Rudolf Knuchel’s allegations.

“[Both organizations] are ready to confront his complaints in court,” Chanthol Oung said.

The allegations contained in a three-page statement from Knu­chel dated July 17 claim that his arrest was engineered by 18 people, including journalists and children’s right workers who are part of a plot to steal prime real estate owned by him in Siem Reap town.

“The action of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the police and [the courts]….in my case, were mistaken, abused and influenced by the NGO Terre de Hommes Germany [and the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center],” ac­cording to the statement, which was e-mailed to media outlets.

“In my particular case it makes sense to interrogate the attitudes of the NGOs…the motivations of the accusers, the quality and level of training, their competence and the moral reference of the people designated to work as NGO staff,” said Knuchel in his statement which also labeled as grotesque lies the allegations that he molested boys.

Interviewed in Siem Reap prison shortly after his arrest Jan 26, Knuchel said he was being framed by vengeful boys in the town who had stolen a bicycle belonging to him, but later were caught.

Knuchel, who was formally freed on bail after a Supreme Court decision last month, will soon face a court hearing on charges he committed acts of debauchery against young boys in Siem Reap town, court officials said Tuesday. Knuchel is a longtime resident of Siem Reap and has been active in the hotel and tourism business for years.

Investigating Judge Tan Sen­arong said Tuesday that final pieces of evidence are being compiled and the case could be held within weeks.

Criticizing the Supreme Court’s decision granting bail to Knuchel, Chanthol Oung said that it has shaken eight young male witnesses who have complained that Knuchel sexually abused them.

The bail decision has also been interpreted negatively by court officials in Siem Reap who see it as a sign that they are not being supported in their attempts to bring the case to court, Chanthol Oung added.

So Vat, Siem Reap court prosecutor, denied Thursday that the bail decision has had any affect on the Siem Reap court’s ability to try the case.

(Additional reporting Phann Ana)


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