Phnom Penh Municipal Court has sentenced a Japanese man to seven years in prison after finding him guilty of purchasing sex from a 13-year-old girl in August last year.
Atsushi Kato, 40, was arrested in September 2009, one month after police raided a Daun Penh district brothel where he paid for sex with the girl on multiple occasions.
His arrest was carried out after he visited the government-run rehabilitation centre where the victim was held following the raid.
He said he paid the victim a visit because he wanted “to know how well she was being treated there”.
In addition to handing down the jail term, Judge Din Sivuthy ordered Kato to pay 400,000 riels (US$94) in compensation, and said he would be deported at the end of his sentence.
Kato told reporters after the verdict was announced that he planned to appeal.
“I am not happy with the conviction, and I will ask my lawyer to appeal the conviction at the Appeal Court,” he said.
Defence lawyer Kao Soupha said the sentence was “acceptable” because it was the minimum called for under the Law on the Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation.
He added, though, that the guilty verdict itself was unjust.
“My client was not aware that the prostitute was 13, because she was wearing makeup and it was not necessary to ask her for her identity card,” he said.
“This is my question to you court officials and government officials: When you go to have sex with girls, have you ever asked them to show identity cards?”
Nuon Phanith, a lawyer provided to the victim by child protection NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, said the compensation awarded to his client was “too small”.
“The court’s conviction is acceptable and just for my client, and is in the right accordance with the law,” he said.
“But the compensation is too small relative to the damage inflicted on the victim.”
In Preah Sihanouk province a court sentenced two men – Frenchman Michel Roger Blanchard, 44, and American Alan Arthur Perry, 57 – to 17 years and three years respectively in relation to child sex charges.
Blanchard was found guilty of unlawful removal with purpose and unlawful recruitment for exploitation against two underage boys in August 2008. Perry was found guilty of soliciting sex from four teenage boys in April.