Photo by: Pha Lina
Frenchman Olivier Madrieres is escorted out of Phnom Penh Municipal Court after a hearing on Wednesday.
PHNOM Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday found a 48-year-old French national guilty of purchasing sex with a child prostitute, and sentenced him to two years in prison.
All but seven months of the sentence given to Olivier Madrieres, however, was suspended, and he is due for release in two weeks because of time already served.
Judge Ke Sakhorn also ordered Madrieres to pay 3 million riels (US$716) in compensation to the victim.
Olivier was arrested last November after police said they found him having sex at a guesthouse in Daun Penh district with a girl who they said was 16.
Madrieres and his lawyer, Dun Vibol, have said that the girl was in fact 20 at the time, a claim they both reiterated on Wednesday.
“He is not a paedophile like the accusation said,” Dun Vibol said of his client.
“He has no bad intention to hurt the victim. She agreed to go with him and she was already 20 years old.”
Speaking after the verdict was read out, Madrieres said: “I will leave Cambodia soon after I’m released from prison. All the media have named me as a paedophile. For my country, it is terrible.”
He also said that he had slept with the victim only after she showed him an identification card that indicated she was 20.
Nuon Phanith, a lawyer for the victim provided by the child protection NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, expressed disappointment on Wednesday at the length of the sentence, and said there was a chance Madrieres would “seek revenge” upon his release because the court had not ordered that he be deported.
“In many paedophile cases, the court always orders the deportation soon after their release. I’m worried that after he’s free, he will seek revenge on the victim’s family,” Nuon Phanith said.
He added that he did not consider the sentence to be severe enough to deter other potential paedophiles.