The Court of Appeals postponed a hearing for five alleged pedophiles and human traffickers on Monday, citing lack of defense for the accused.
Two German men and three Vietnamese suspects were found guilty in May by Phnom Penh court for trafficking and sexual abuse offenses in 2007.
Henning Kharl Henz, 60, was sentenced to 28 years; Van Engelhardt Thomas, 42, received 12 years; Chang Thy Yieur, 22, and Ngieng Hong Voeng, 20, received 17 years; and Lim Ny, 48, received 15 years.
“We cannot proceed with a hearing in a penal case if the accused have no lawyer,” Appeals Court judge Chem Vich Rith said Monday.
Peng Maneth, an Action Pours Les Enfant’s lawyer for the victims, told reporters the postponed hearing was a disappointment.
“It loses the time of the victims,” she said. “We had much difficulty preparing them for the hearing. The victims were studying when the court postponed a hearing, and the victims have thought of this case more again and again.”
Licadho investigator Am Sam Ath said the court was following procedure, but said a decision should be made as soon as possible, sending a message to other would-be wrongdoers.
“In all of 2008, we received 25 cases for trafficking and 153 cases for child sexual offenses,” he said. “In the early four months of 2009, we received eight cases for trafficking and 78 cases for child sexual offenses. If we compared the early four months of 2008 and of 2009, the cases of trafficking and sexual offense are increasing.”
Keo Thea, chief of Phnom Penh’s anti-trafficking police, said cases were continuing, but he said the police had taken strong measures to investigate the crimes.
Police had made arrests in five cases this year so far, he said, netting foreigners from the US, France, Greece and Sweden.