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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ...but doubts remain over justice

...but doubts remain over justice

...but doubts remain over justice

W HILE alleged sex tourists to Asia are increasingly targeted for prosecution in their

home countries, those who are arrested in Cambodia are likely to meet a lenient fate.

Two foreigners arrested in March, and later convicted for having sex with children,

quietly left Cambodia in recent months after serving what one policeman called "abnormally

soft sentences" by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

French photographer Amedee Hennion, 54, and Canadian Manfred Albert Horst, 50, a

Bangkok resident who visited Cambodia frequently, were both arrested in Phnom Penh

in early March.

The arrests were made by Cambodian Interpol officers amid great media hoopla - with

Hennion and two of his young accusers paraded in front of journalists at press conferences

- in what police described as "a warning" to other pedophiles.

A local NGO providing shelter to street children tipped police off about the two

men, Interpol officers said, after several 12- to 14-year-old boys said the men paid

them $2 to $3 for sex.

Two photo albums of young children were found at Hennion's residence, as were 31

explicit pictures of nude boys in Horst's room at a guesthouse. The photographs were

displayed to reporters.

The municipal court sentenced Horst to four months in July, and Hennion to five months

in prison in August, under a law introduced during the United Nations' UNTAC mission

to Cambodia, according to Yim Po, director of the Cambodian Center for the Protection

of Children's Rights.

Both men were also put on two years' probation, he said.

Police and child rights officers have cried foul, saying the UNTAC-era law requiring

sentences of six months to two years in prison, is a far cry from the 10-year minimum

sentences mandated by the law on human trafficking passed by the National Assembly

last year.

A senior officer at the municipal police bureau for foreigners, who asked not to

be identified, said: "The sentence should have been 10 years and not four and

five months,"

"The sentence depended on the justice [system] and in Cambodia the justice system

is not good. It depends on money. The police are very disappointed," he said.

"Four children testified against Horst and said that other children had been

used [for oral and anal sex]. In the case of Hennion, four children aged 12 to 16

testified but for oral sex only."

Yim Po said that poverty made the children easy victims: "These children need

money and they are willing to be used because they need to survive. "

He agreed that Horst and Hennion had received lenient sentences. "According

to the law, anyone who commits sexual acts on children under 15, even if they consent,

should face a prison sentence of 10 to 20 years."

Horst left Cambodia several weeks after he was freed in July, officials said.

Hennion was freed three days after being sentenced as he had already served four

months and 27 days, officials added, noting that he left for France a week later.

The municipal police officer speculated that Hennion may have received a harsher

sentence than Horst - who was accused of the more serious crime of paying for anal

sex - because the French Embassy followed the case very closely and even would have

preferred to have him judged in France.

French Consul Jacques Le Jeune visited police to claim Hennion's photo albums and

his case file in order to forward them to French authorities, according to the policeman,

who showed the Post an Aug 22 document signed by Le Jeune acknowledging receipt of

them.

Le Jeune, however, said French Embassy involvement in the case was limited to protecting

the physical well-being of a Frenchman, and he denied having the case files.

A friend of Hennion's, meanwhile, lamented violations of the Frenchman's rights while

in prison.

"Hennion was beaten up and sexually abused while in prison. And I can tell you

he always stuck to not paying anybody. The Canadian paid for his release because

he hoped it would help to get a softer sentence, [so] he reached the court a month

before Hennion."

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