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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

German charge with aggravated beating of Cambodian wife

Phnom Penh - A German man was facing 10 to 20 years in a Cambodian jail after police allegedly rescued his wife in what they claimed Wednesday was one of the worst cases of domestic violence they had seen. Alvin Gossnol, 37, was arrested after police received complaints from his 38-year-old wife's family that she was being held against her will in their home and had been badly beaten.

Cheung Prey district police chief in the eastern province of Kampong Cham, Heing Vuthy, said the woman had managed to escape a room she had been locked in for two weeks but had been unable to scale the locked gate because her hands were broken.

"She managed to attract the attention of a boy who was passing and he ran to tell her relatives, who called the police," Vuthy said by telephone.

"After we pulled her over the wall, she told us when they married in 2001, her husband had made a special stick to beat her with. If she got the stick for him herself, he didn't beat her as badly, but if he had to get the stick, he beat her very seriously."

Police said Gossnol was at the home when they arrived but refused to open the gate. He only left the woman alone long enough for her to escape when their 8-month-old baby began crying.

"When we came back with a warrant, we found the stick, exactly as she had told us and it was still covered in her blood," Vuthy said.

The baby was rescued and returned to the mother, police said.

Gossnol, a pig farmer whose exact place of birth in Germany was not available, was jailed pending trial. Under Cambodian law he can be held up to six months pretrial.

"It is safe to say this man seems to have treated his pigs much better than his wife," Vuthy said.

Earlier this month Cambodia temporarily banned marriages of its nationals to foreigners, saying they feared often poor and under-educated women were especially vulnerable to abuse.

Divorce is still frowned upon in Cambodia, and the women also frequently feel a financial obligation to their families to stay with their foreign husbands no matter how bad it gets.
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