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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Doctor says his partners 'young men' - not boys

Doctor says his partners 'young men' - not boys

B RITISH doctor Gavin Scott acknowledges having had sex with "young Khmer men" but said he did "not go with 11, 12 or 13-year-olds".

"That is what you think of when you hear the word 'pedophile'," Scott said from a barred room at the Phnom Penh Municipal police station on the morning of June 23.

"Where does the issue of gay-bashing begin?" he said, adding that most pedophilia involved heterosexual acts.

Scott has been charged with rape, following a five-month investigation by NGO workers that produced - among other documents - five testimonies from Khmer boys aged 14 and 15 saying Scott committed sexual acts with them for money.

NGO staff have asked that Scott also be charged with having sex or other sexual acts, even with consent, with a minor (under 16 years).

Scott, taken into custody after answering a summons from local police on June 22, said he was concerned for his mother in England. "No doubt this is splashed across the pages of the newspapers now," he said. "She knows nothing about this."

"I know this sounds funny but I'm concerned for my dogs," he said, referring to his pets at home. "Who is going to look after them?"

Scott, denying any allegation of pedophilia, said he had only had sex with young men aged "17, 18 or 19".

Scott - at that stage - knew of testimonies against him from three of the five complainants. "I don't know (Khmer) names on paper. I can't tell whether I know them or not," he said.

He had seen copies of the youths' testimonies "with their fingerprints on them" and he had also been asked to fingerprint a statement written in Khmer.

"I asked them [the police] if I could write a statement in English," he said, which he did and duly signed. He said the police still wanted him to sign the Khmer statement, which he did after printing the words 'See English translation' above his sign. "I hope that does the trick," he said.

Scott said he had not been allowed to talk to his lawyer David Doran that morning. He said Doran was not a trial lawyer and that because "money never meant much to me" he could not afford to have expensive representation anyway. It is understood that Scott is talking to an independent Khmer counsel about defending him.

The doctor said that, after answering the police's summons for questioning, he had been given permission to leave the police station at 4pm (on June 22).

He was just about to walk through the door of his cell "till [one of NGO investigators] phoned up someone to have me held here."

He talked of his medical business practise being potentially ruined, and wondered aloud whether a public advertisement to his clients would be the right thing to do. "Maybe my conservative patients will leave, maybe others won't mind."

He said his visa expired in July and he doubted getting it renewed would be a simple matter, given such allegations.

A formal complaint was laid with the police on June 20. The following day police officers visited him at his medical practice to deliver a summons requiring him to appear for questioning at the station within 24 hours.

He did so the following day and was taken into custody. Scott accompanied police officers to search his house on the afternoon of June 22. Three firearms, with the proper permits, were found, according to police officers.

At 3pm the next afternoon, the doctor, in sunglasses and a grey safari suit, was taken to Phnom Penh Municipal Court to find out whether he would be formally charged.

Initially represented by an English-born lawyer, he spent the afternoon behind closed doors with judges.

Chief judge Oum Sarith eventually appointed an investigating judge, Ya Sokhan, to look into the case. Scott then spent more than two hours being questioned by Ya Sokhan.

The judge later decided that Scott would remain in custody for the meantime, and the doctor was led away, covering his face from photographers.

In a moment of confusion, Scott and his lawyer attempted to get into what they thought was a police car, but in fact that of a court official. It became apparent that there was no police car waiting to take him away, so British Embassy official Les Hartley - who said he was there only to observe the legal proceedings - gave Scott, his lawyer and one policeman a ride to the police station.

The following day Scott was transferred to T3 prison.

Scott is in cell B6 with two Khmer inmates. Prison officials have said he will treated the same as any other prisoner. He faces up to four months in custody - and a further two months on appeal - while the investigation continues. At any stage the judge can release him.

Scott can apply for bail, either of a monetary sum or on his own recognisance, and the motion can be appealed by the prosecutor. Scott has given up his passport to police.

Scott has been charged with rape under Article 33 of the UNTAC penal law, apparently because at least some of the complainants allege sexual penetration. Rape carries a maximum sentence of between 10-15 years, depending on whether violence or coercion was used.

The original complaint to police was made under Article 42, concerned indecent assault and child prostitution, which has a maximum sentence of six years.

NGO investigators want Scott charged under both Articles, apparently because it is prostitution - rather than rape - which was alleged in the original complaint.

A dossier on Scott's case is understood to have been made available by investigators to senior police and political leaders.

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