In an abuse case that raised the ire of people across Cambodia, a Dutch national was sentenced to two years in prison on Thursday for helping his Vietnamese boyfriend flee the country after videos apparently showing him torturing a toddler with an electric rod surfaced on Facebook in December.
Stefan Struik’s boyfriend, Nguyen Thanh Dung, 34, who has been in detention in Vietnam since his arrest upon arrival in Ho Chi Minh City, was also sentenced in absentia to 18 years in prison, according to Mondolkiri Provincial Court spokesman Meas Pros. Police said at the time of Mr. Nguyen’s arrest that a total of 49 videos showing the abuse of the 2-year-old boy were found on his phone.
The boy’s mother said on Thursday that she was happy with the court’s decision, but wished Mr. Nguyen would be returned to Cambodia to serve his sentence—a hope she said was unlikely to be fulfilled since Vietnamese police had previously told her he would be punished in his home country.
“He did it in Cambodia, but he is now being held there,” she said. “We don’t know how he is being detained.”
Shortly after the footage of the abuse surfaced, the family moved to Preah Sihanouk province for a fresh start, which had helped with the boy’s recovery, his mother added.
“He can play with other children just fine,” she said. But still, “if the person is someone he doesn’t know, he gets scared.”
The provincial court’s spokesman Mr. Pros added that Mr. Struik, 53, who was arrested in December, was fined 4 million riel, or about $1,000, and Mr. Nguyen 80 million riel, or about $20,000.
Mr. Struik was found guilty of omission to file a complaint against the mistreatment of a minor—punishable by one to three years in jail and a fine between 2 and 6 million riel, or about $500 to $1,500—while Mr. Nguyen was sentenced for torture and acts of cruelty with aggravating circumstances, punishable by 10 to 20 years, Mr. Pros said.
During his trial last month, Mr. Struik, who is also a Cambodian citizen and owns the cacao plantation where the alleged torture took place, said he had not been aware of the torture until the videos were put online. He admitted that he had encouraged Mr. Nguyen to leave the country for Vietnam, but denied that he had helped him do so.
Deputy provincial police chief So Sovann said Mr. Struik had been returned to the provincial prison to serve his sentence, and added that Vietnamese officials had not provided any updates on Mr. Nguyen’s court proceedings there.
© 2017, The Cambodia Daily. All rights reserved No part of this article may be reproduced in print, electronically, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without written permission.