Virgin-Trade Trial Concludes; Verdict Due in June, Judge Says

A man charged with buying a 14-year-old virgin for sex told Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday that he thought the victim was 19, and that he had wanted her to be his mistress.

Meas Chanthoeun, 53, stood trial yesterday for allegedly buying the girl last year. Also in court were Keu Sen, 49, and Chan Pov, 32, charged with conspiring in the al­leged crime by procuring the girl for Mr Chanthoeun.

After five hours of questioning by the three judges, the deputy prosecutor and lawyers, the accused were sent back to detention after presiding Judge Ke Sakhon an­nounced that the court’s verdict would not be read out until June 10.

While the victim did not attend the trial, her mother and father gave evidence supporting the de­fense lawyers’ argument that their daughter was 19 years old.

They told the court their daughter was born in 1991, contradicting the age on a birth certificate—confirmed as correct by National Police Commissioner Neth Savoeun—that shows she was born in 1995.

“In fact, my daughter is 19,” the victim’s father, Van Phal said. He claimed a local NGO currently caring for his daughter was not allowing her to visit her family.

Mr Chanthoeun told the court he met the alleged victim after Mr Sen and Ms Pov set up a lunch meeting last September, adding he had given $200 to Mr Sen to give to the girl’s parents, who were ill.

Mr Sen told the court he then gave the $200 to Ms Pov. “I didn’t tell Ms Pov to find the young girl to give to Mr Chanthoeun,” he said.

After having lunch, Mr Chant­hoeun said, he brought the girl “to rest at a hotel.”

“I didn’t do anything [to] her and then the police arrested me,” he said. “I never had sex with her.”

Mr Chanthoeun said he did not know that the alleged victim was underage. “She told me she was 19,” he said, adding that he had “really” wanted her as his mistress.

Samleang Seila, country director for anti-pedophile NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, said yesterday he was disappointed that the trial had gone ahead.

“We requested a delay [on Tues­day] after our legal representatives received urgent new cases…. They could not attend to represent the victim,” he said.

Mr Seila said the lawyer who represented the victim yesterday was appointed by the victim’s mother.

“She is not happy with the lawyer [appointed by her mother],” he added.


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