During their investigations into a Vietnamese man suspected of torturing a young Cambodian boy in videos leaked online last week, police say they have discovered almost 50 videos showing the same man abusing the boy over the course of four days in August.
It remains uncertain whether the suspect, 34-year-old Nguyen Than Dung, will be returned to Cambodia for trial after being arrested in Ho Chi Minh City last week.
Nguyen Thanh Dung, a Vietnamese national accused of torturing a toddler, is questioned by a reporter in a photograph uploaded to Facebook by Vietnamese state media.The slew of new evidence comes in the wake of outrage that erupted online over the initial videos, which shows a man believed to be the suspect torturing the 2-year-old boy in various ways, often applying a stun gun to his feet, arms, head and genitals.
Mr. Nguyen’s Dutch boyfriend, 53-year-old Stefan Struik, was arrested last week and charged on Friday for allegedly concealing evidence and failing to report the abuse. Mr. Struik owns a cacao plantation in Mondolkiri province where the torture took place.
Under questioning by Vietnamese police, Mr. Nguyen claimed to have been under the influence of crystal methamphetamine, according to deputy Mondolkiri police chief So Sovann, who traveled to Ho Chi Minh City on Friday with a group of Cambodian police and James McCabe, head of the Child Protection Unit, a policing charity working on the case.
“He said he used drugs and then he did it,” Mr. Sovann said, adding that a total of 49 video clips were found on the suspect’s phone.
Mr. McCabe said the newly discovered videos show the same suspect and victim, and all capture “cruel and sadistic acts.” The videos were recorded over the course of four days in late August, he said.
Having had “excellent cooperation” with senior Vietnamese police officials over the weekend, Cambodian police are beginning what may be a long process of having Mr. Nguyen sent back across the border to face trial, Mr. McCabe said.
“I’m hopeful that it will be a successful application, but it will take some time as procedures need to be followed—and primarily due to the high profile nature of this investigation and the offender,” he said.
“But it will be a good outcome if he’s returned to face justice in Cambodia, which is the appropriate venue for any charges to be laid.”
Mr. Struik, who holds Cambodian citizenship, denied knowledge of his boyfriend’s crimes in a video uploaded to Facebook, in which he said he helped Mr. Nguyen return to Ho Chi Minh to search for another woman who was somehow involved in the case.
On Thursday, the 2-year-old boy was taken to Royal Phnom Penh Hospital for a health checkup paid for by the prime minister’s eldest daughter, Hun Mana. Tycoon Mong Reththy wrote on a post to his Facebook page on Friday that he had offered the boy’s parents food, a new house and jobs on his palm oil plantation in Preah Sihanouk province.
On Sunday, the Vietnamese Ambassador to Cambodia also met with the child and his family in Preah Sihanouk province and delivered a donation, according to Mr. McCabe.
soumy@cambodiadaily.com
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