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Appeal Court upholds underage sex verdict

The Appeal Court yesterday upheld the 2006 conviction of 38-year-old German national Alexander Moritz Watrin for having sex with four underage boys in Preah Sihanouk province.

Watrin was arrested in Sihanoukville in April 2006 and charged with debauchery, a category of crime that no longer exists, after four boys aged between 12 and 15 said they had sex with him.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay US$5,000 in compensation, but his sentence was reduced to seven years by the Appeal Court in 2009 after passage of the Law on Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation.

Watrin appealed the conviction to Cambodia’s Supreme Court in May 2010, which ordered the case reinvestigated.

“We reheard the case after the Supreme Court ordered further investigations ... but we had enough evidence to find him guilty based on victims’ testimonies,” presiding Judge Seng Sivutha said yesterday.

However, the verdict reduced the amount of compensation owed to the victims to 10 million riels ($2,457).

Watrin maintained his innocence during yesterday’s hearing and blamed the child protection NGO Action Pour Les Enfants for coaching the four boys and paying them money to testify against him.

Watrin’s defence lawyer, Pich Soyra, told reporters that the court’s ruling should not have been based solely on victims’ testimony but should have included medical examinations of the alleged victims, adding that he would consult with his client about further appeals.

APLE lawyer Nuon Phanith said he did not oppose the Appeal Court verdict but questioned why the court lowered the amount of compensation owed to the victims.

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