The trial of a Dutch man charged with concealing evidence after his Vietnamese boyfriend was seen torturing a toddler in a series of videos\ was postponed within an hour of its commencement on Tuesday after the court determined that an insufficient number of judges had been assigned to the case.
The criminal case against 53-year-old Stefan Struik would be sent to the head of the Mondolkiri Provincial Court to have two additional judges assigned to it in accordance with the law, court clerk Lay Lycheng said on Tuesday.
“We thought we could conduct the trial,” she said, but as the court was reviewing procedures, officials realized there had been an error since it is a criminal case and three presiding judges are required.
Mr. Struik was returned to provincial prison after questioning and his trial is set to resume on June 21, Ms. Lycheng added.
Mr. Struik was arrested in December for allegedly helping his boyfriend, Nguyen Thanh Dung, 34, flee his Mondolkiri plantation to Vietnam. Mr. Nguyen was arrested by officials in Ho Chi Minh City.
A series of 49 videos leaked online earlier that month showed Mr. Nguyen torturing a 2-year-old boy, whose parents worked on Mr. Struik’s plantation, in some videos prodding him with an electric rod.
The charges against Mr. Struik, who holds Cambodian citizenship, include “omission to file a complaint against the mistreatment of a minor” and “concealment of evidence,” which together carry a sentence of one to three years in prison and fines of up to 6 million riel, or about $1,500.
In February, the child’s mother said Vietnamese police had told her that Mr. Nguyen would not be extradited to face charges in Cambodia.
Deputy Mondolkiri police chief So Sovann said on Tuesday that Vietnamese police had visited Cambodia to collect more evidence, but he had received no updates on Mr. Nguyen’s trial in the neighboring country.
soumy@cambodiadaily.com
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