Pedophile Case Continues; Verdict Due March 9

The debauchery and human trafficking trial of two Germans and three Vietnamese charged for their roles in an alleged pedo­phile ring concluded its second day Thursday, with Phnom Penh Municipal Court Judge Ke Sak­horn announcing that he will de­liver a verdict March 9.

The suspects were arrested in August in a series of arrests that in­volv­ed a raid on the Chamkar Mon district apartment of Henning Karl-Heinz Opitz, then aged 61. Police recovered in the raid a copious amo­unt of video footage of both Opitz and Thomas Baron von Engelhardt, 42, having sex with children.

The three Vietnamese suspects, Cheng Thit Heu—the mother of two of the victims—Cheng Thi Yu and Nguyen Hong Voeng were charged with human trafficking for providing the young girls to the German men.

Opitz, who was charged in August with both debauchery and human trafficking that each carry jail terms of 10 to 20 years, told the court Thurs­day that he had not sexually abused any children and could not explain his own appearance in video evidence.

Opitz also denied committing debauchery when questioned by Theng Meng Y, one of his two de­fense attorneys.

During the testimony of the alleged victims and as the court viewed evidence, reporters were excused from the courtroom at the request of anti-pedophile NGO Action Pour Les Enfants.

After the trial was adjourned, Theng Meng Y said that his client claimed the pornographic footage in which he featured was doctored. “He still says he is innocent.”

Cheav Tola, a defense attorney for Baron von Engelhardt, declined to comment Thursday.

APLE Country Director Kathe­rine Keane said she felt the case against the suspects was solid.


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