Saturday, July 29, 2006

Rapists' Appeals Fail

A Cambodian appeals court had upheld long jail sentences against two Australians despite their young accusers changing their stories of rape and sexual harassment.

Bart Lauwaert, 39, a former English language teacher was convicted and sentenced in 2003 to 20 years on charges of raping his maids, aged 12 and 14 in northwestern Siem Reap province. Another Australian, Clint Rex Betteridge, who fled Cambodia before his trial, has been ordered to serve 10 years if he returns.

Lauwaert denied he raped the maids, and his alleged victims had recanted their accusations in a hearing last week, saying they were never assaulted. Nine girls told the appeals court that the Cambodian Women Crisis Centre urged them to testify against Lauwaert.

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