S’ville Court Frees Accused Dutch Debaucher

A Dutch national accused of sexually abusing two underage boys was released Monday by the Sihanoukville Municipal Court, which cited a lack of evidence despite the accused having confessed to police, court officials said.

“We released him [Monday] afternoon because our investigating judge did not find any evidence against him,” Deputy Pros­ecutor Chhum Ngorn said Tues­day.

“The evidence is very un­clear so we decided to drop charg­es against him.”

Police arrested Joseph Bou­wen, 50, in a public area near O’Chheuteal beach on Nov 24 in the company of a 15-year-old boy who had his trousers pulled down, police said at the time.

Bouwen later confessed to the charge of debauchery and to molesting another boy the night be­fore, Be Sivanna, Sihanoukville anti-trafficking police bureau chief, said at the time.

“I don’t know why he was re­leased,” Be Sivanna said Tuesday. “When he was arrested, police had witnesses and evidence.”

But investigating Judge Sok Soeun said there was neither evidence nor witnesses to support the allegations.

“When I asked three boys they said they did not see [the alleged offense] by themselves. They only heard [about] it from others,” the judge said.

Bouwen’s lawyer, Nou Tepi­rith, said his client denied confessing to police.

“The confession was on the weakest elements,” he said, ad­ding, “some confessions could come from not understanding the questions.”

Margaret Eno, managing director of M’Lop Tapang, a Siha­nouk­ville-based NGO that works with street children, said representatives from the organization and the boys’ parents planned to meet Chhum Ngorn on Tues­day afternoon to press for an appeal.


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