The Appeal Court yesterday heard the case of a man convicted by Kampong Speu Provincial Court last year and sentenced to three years in jail for molesting his four-year-old niece in his house.
Presiding Judge Pol Sam Oeun identified him as Ing Sokleap, a 24-year-old construction worker from Chbar Mon commune in the province’s Chbar Mon city.
Judge Sam Oeun said Mr Sokleap was charged with indecent assault after he was arrested by the provincial Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Department in Kampong Speu province on May 20 last year.
Judge Sam Oeun noted that Mr Sokleap was married and has three sons with his wife, who is a garment worker. They all lived in Chbar Mon commune.
Judge Sam Oeun said that at about 2pm on May 19 last year, Mr Sokleap persuaded his four-year-old niece, who lived nearby, to come to his house and play with his kids.
“But when the victim was sitting and playing with his kids inside the house, Mr Sokleap molested her,” Judge Sam Oeun said, adding that he also injured her genital area with a hard object.
He noted that after injuring her, the victim cried and ran home to her mother, who questioned her. The victim then told her mother about the incident.
Judge Sam Oeun added that the victim’s mother brought her to the communal police post and filed a complaint against the accused, which led to his arrest on May 20 in his home.
Judge Sam Oeun noted that Kampong Speu Provincial Court on December 24 convicted Mr Sokleap and sentenced him to three years in jail.
However, the court prosecutor did not agree with the ruling and appealed to the Appeal Court to change Mr Sokleap’s charge to rape with aggravating circumstances and punish him with a heavier sentence, which could see him jailed between seven to 15 years.
During yesterday’s trial, Mr Sokleap denied the allegation, saying that he did not rape the victim.
“On that day, the victim came to play with my kids in my house. But I was not home or played with them,” he told the court. “I was playing snooker with a group of friends near my house that day.”
“I did not sexually abuse her or rape her as accused,” he added, noting that he was not aware that the victim had been injured.
Mr Sokleap requested that the Appeal Court overturn the charge and release him from prison.
Kim Kunkalyan, deputy prosecutor at the Appeal Court, said that although the accused denied the allegation, the victim said that he had molested her and injured her.
Ms Kunkalyan added that a medical examination certified that the victim’s genital area was injured by a hard object.
“Based on the evidence, in the name of the prosecutor, I would like to change Mr Sokleap’s charge from indecent assault to rape with aggravating circumstance,” she said. “I would like the judges’ council to punish him with a heavier sentence so that he will not repeat it when he is out of prison.”
A verdict is due on July 25.