of injustice in
The alleged victims of an Australian convicted in 2003 of raping his young maids dropped their complaints during an appeals hearing today, saying they were coerced into testifying.
Nine girls told the court that a non-governmental organisation urged them to testify against Bart Lauwaert at his trial three years ago, claiming he would be forced to pay them money if he was found guilty.
Lauwaert, 39, was convicted of raping and sexually harassing six Cambodian girls aged between 12 and 14, but his trial had been called into question over allegations that the victims had been coached.
He received 20 years in jail and was ordered to pay $US20,000 ($A26,600) in compensation to the victims and their families.
"He did not rape me at all. What I said earlier was because of the organisation," said 18-year-old Koeun Savy after the hearing ended.
She was working in Lauwaert's house at the time he was arrested in 2002.
"I have not received any money yet," she told reporters, describing Lauwaert as a "Buddhist monk" who helped the poor.
Lauwaert, a former English
teacher, was arrested in the northern city of
Following today's hearing Lauwaert said: "I believe I'll find justice."
"I absolutely deny all the
charges. I never abused, raped or did anything wrong in
Lauwaert repeated his allegations that the NGO Cambodian Women's Crisis Center (CWCC) had "kidnapped" the young girls and told them they could get money for testifying against foreigners.
Ung Chanthol, executive director of the CWCC, which has been involved in several high-profile cases of foreign sex offenders, could not be immediately reached by telephone.
When asked if he would sue the
CWCC, Lauwaert said he did not know. He also said he was unsure if he would
"I'm very tired. I have been in prison for a very long time. I'll think about that later," he said.
The court is expected to announce its verdict on June 9.
Betteridge, 39, fled
He received 10 years in jail and
an $US8,000 ($A10,650) fine in absentia, but remains in
Around two dozen foreigners have
been jailed or deported to face trial in their home countries for child sex
crimes since 2003 as