South Korean Rape Suspect Released on Bail By Supreme Court

The Supreme Court yesterday released on bail a 37-year-old South Korean man charged with raping a 16-year-old girl who was allegedly drugged and delivered to him by a Cambodian couple in July.

Speaking for the five-judge bench, Judge Khim Pon read out the decision in court yesterday morning, allowing Bong Hwan-yoo to be released on bail. Mr Bong was charged in July and denied bail on appeal by the Appeal Court.

The court “permits him to be released on bail, but under the eyes of the municipal court. He is not allowed to leave Cambodia and he must be present whenever there is a summons from the municipal court and he must inform the court if he changes his address” the judge said.

Mr Bong was charged with rape and “unlawful removal with purpose” on July 23, while his supposed accomplices, Theng Kimsreng, 35, and his wife Buth Vicheka, 25, were charged with conspiracy to rape and unlawful removal with purpose.

Supreme Court Prosecutor Phann Vannaroth said after yesterday’s court proceedings that the results of the girl’s medical checkup had not contained definitive evidence of Mr Bong’s guilt, and that a security camera did not show the 16-year-old being carried by the suspect to his hotel room, as she had claimed.

“The medical checkup did not show she was raped,” he said. “Also, the video did not have an image of the man carrying the girl, as she accused.”

Mr Vannaroth said that Mr Bong could be re-arrested should he attempt to flee the court’s jurisdiction. At the bail hearing on Dec 30, Mr Vannaroth also argued on behalf of Mr Bong, saying that the suspect should be granted bail because he was a foreigner backed by the South Korean embassy.

Nuon Phanith, the victim’s lawyer, said yesterday that he was sorry and disappointed with the decision.

“This will set a bad example for other cases,” he said. “I have never seen a suspect charged with two offenses and released on bail. This could jeopardize the court’s investigation process.”


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