Appeal Court hears child rape case committed by violent alcoholic father

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Meas Sovann at the Appeal Court on Wednesday. Kim Sarom

The Appeal Court on Wednesday heard the case of Meas Sovann, 42 who was charged with raping his 12-year-old daughter multiple times between 2015 and last year until she fell pregnant.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court had sentenced the accused to 10 years in prison.

Appeal Court records said Sovann has four children and was an alcoholic who had always used violence against his family.

The victim kept the rapes a secret because after each occasion the crime was perpetrated, her father threatened to kill her if she told anyone about it.

However, a female relative noticed her bulging belly in March last year as she slept and questioned her about it. Initially, the victim attempted to hide the truth about her father’s conduct but confessed after the relative’s persistent questioning.

The victim was then taken for a medical examination which confirmed her pregnancy, court records said.

The relative and the victim’s mother proceeded to file a complaint at the Khmuonh commune police station, after which Sovann was arrested.

Citing the victim, Appeal Court records reveal that her father had been raping her between 2015 and last year, but she couldn’t remember the exact date of each rape.

The records quoted the girl as saying: “My father rapes me when my mother goes to plant rice and sometimes at night at home. He threatens me not to tell my mother about his acts.”

Sovann, from Sen Sok district’s Khmuonh commune in Phnom Penh, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on June 25 this year by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on rape charges under Article 241 of the Criminal Code.

At the courtroom on Wednesday, the accused told trial chamber president Tith Sothy Bora Leak that he had failed to rape his daughter.

“My daughter is pregnant but the child is not mine. I did not commit the act of rape so I ask the Appeal Court to release me,” he said.

However, prosecutor Sar Yuos Thavorak said it was only at the Appeal Court’s investigation stage that he claimed “failure to rape”.

“The accused had failed to mention the failed rape attempt to the police when he was questioned. Hence, I urge the court to uphold the same verdict,” he said.

In his conclusion, defence lawyer Pich Phalla Sambath stressed that his client had made denials at the Appeal Court, and called on the court to release his client.

Judge Bora Leak announced that the court will hand down a verdict on October 25.