PHNOM Penh Municipal Court yesterday heard the case against an Australian man charged with purchasing child prostitution from two underage girls, court officials said.
Michael John Lines, 52, was arrested on March 17 in Sihanoukville after police accused him of having abused the girls in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district since 2005. But lawyers for Lines and the victim both requested that the case be dropped, and Lines has denied the charge.
Chhith Vinea, a lawyer for the victims, said one girl was legally engaged to Lines in 2007, and that the other girl was his fiancée’s friend. He also said the fiancée was born in 1990, which he said proved she was 18 when they were engaged. “I request the court lift the charges against the accused at the behest of my client to allow them to live as a normal married couple,” he told the court.
Depending on whether the victims are deemed to have been underage at the time of the alleged abuse, Lines faces anywhere from between two and 15 years in prison if found guilty. No verdict date has been set.