Monday, April 8, 2013

Court Questions Major Over Abuse of Minors

Banteay Meanchey provincial police arrested a wheelchair-bound retired Royal Cambodian Armed Forces major on allegations he abused minors in Poipet City between 2008 and 2012, police said Friday.
“On [Thursday] evening, the provincial prosecutor decided to allow us to arrest [Major Khuon Vanna] for questioning,” provincial penal police chief Un Sam On said.

Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court prosecutor Phann Vanrath confirmed the major’s arrest, but said he did not know how many minors were allegedly abused and that the suspect had not yet been charged.

“I decided to arrest him because NGOs and the victims parents’ filed a complaint with us,” Mr. Vanrath said.
Police first received reports of abuse by the suspect in 2008, but there had not been enough evidence to pursue charges against Mr. Vanna, who lost both legs when he stepped on a land mine more than 10 years ago, according to representatives of two NGOs investigating the case.

Lisa Slavovsky, director of aftercare for the International Justice Mission (IJM) in Cambodia, which investigated the alleged abuse together with anti-pedophile NGO Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE) said that victims have accused Mr. Vanna of abuse.

“Right now, only three victims were identified by the police,” she said. “We expect that there were more…based on the statements by the witnesses who have already come forward.”

“In 2010, there were already parents who came forward who also gave testimony to police saying their children were abused,” she said.

Banteay Meanchey provincial police chief Kheng Soum and Poipet City police chief Oum Sophal declined to comment.

APLE Executive Director Samleang Seila said he believed the number of victims to be far higher than reported so far.

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