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.