Sex Abuse Investigation Finishes; Trial Is Next

Phnom Penh Municipal Court has concluded its investigation of Ernst Ivankowitsch, the 73-year-old Austrian accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl since she was 9, court officials said Wednes­day. The case will now go to trial.

Investigating Judge Kim Sophorn said he concluded the investigation due to media interest in the case. “I focused only on this case to finish it fast and pass it out of my hand to reduce the pressure,” he said.

The speed of the investigation, however, received strong criticism from the alleged victim’s lawyer. The Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center on Wednesday questioned the legal system’s ability to ensure a fair trial.

“There are many witnesses who need to be questioned, but none of them were summoned,” said Hout Sophorn, the girl’s lawyer. “How can [the judge] wrap up the investigation in one week when, by the law, it could take four to six months?”

Ivankowitsch was arrested Nov 6, after he was caught in his Phnom Penh hotel room with the naked girl. Questioned by police, the girl said she was 14 and that she had been abused by Ivan­ko­witsch since age 9. He was initially char­ged with de­bauch­ery, but later released by the court when the girl’s parents did not file a complaint, claiming she was 16.

Kim Sophorn maintained that Ivanko­witsch is still staying at the hotel where he was arrested.

Nop Sarin Sreiroth, a CWCC monitor, called for the trial to be held in Austria. “If we have a trial here, we are not sure [Ivanko­witsch] will be punished.”

In the absence of an Austrian Embassy, the German Embassy is in charge of consulate affairs. “The responsibility to deal with the case rests with the [Cambo­dian] government,” German Ambassa­dor Helmut Ohlraun said Wednes­day. “I just hope the competent authorities apply the existing laws.”

 

he said.

 

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