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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Paedophile roundup

Paedophile roundup

Police say they've arrested two foreigners on paedophile charges in separate cases; rights group hopes for full penalty.

PREAH Sihanouk's provincial court last Friday charged a French national with committing "indecent acts" with two underage girls and has placed him in pretrial detention while police investigate the case, according to a court prosecutor.

A man identified by police only as Jean Claude, 64, was arrested Thursday at a guesthouse where he was found with a 10-year-old and 13-year-old girl, Mak Khieng said.

"Our police took many photographs of the suspect playing in the ocean and at the beach  with the two girls as evidence before the arrest," he said. "Both girls told me the suspect bathed them and touched their vaginas."

The suspect denied the allegations and said he had taken the girls to his guesthouse to treat them for an illness, he said.

Suon Sophan, deputy chief of the province's Anti-human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Department, told the Post that police raided the suspect's room based on a tip from the anti-paedophile NGO Action Pour Les Enfants.

Samleang Seila, APLE's country director, said the man was believed to have known the girls and their mother for several years, and officials from his NGO became suspicious after they saw him leading the two girls into his guesthouse. He said the two girls temporarily have been put in the care of the NGO World Hope.

He said the suspect used a method typical of paedophiles of using gifts of money to lure children to their residences - an act that amounts to purchasing sex from a minor, and must be distinguished from the minor crime of indecent acts, he said. Under the anti-trafficking law passed last year, purchasing sex from a minor - someone under the age of 15 - requires a prison sentence of seven to 15 years, while the crime of indecent acts carries a jail term of one to three years.   

Further hearings, arrests

On Friday, Phnom Penh Municipal Court postponed the trial of US national Jason Todd Baumbach, 40, who was arrested in September last year on charges of purchasing sex from a 13-year-old girl.

Last Tuesday, another American man was arrested in Siem Reap on charges of purchasing sex with two boys, ages 13 and 14, according to Bith Kimhong, director of the Anti-human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Department. The man, identified by police as a 41-year-old named Peter Erik Leonardus, is being held in Phnom Penh's Prey Sar prison, he added. 

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