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Suspected paedophile blames girl’s makeup

THE lawyer for an accused Japanese paedophile yesterday requested that the case against his client be thrown out because the alleged victim, a prostitute, wore makeup that he said made her look older than 18.

Kao Soupha is representing 40-year-old Atsushi Kato, whose case was postponed three times before being heard at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday. Kato was arrested on September 7, 2009, one month to the day after police raided the Daun Penh district brothel where he allegedly paid for sex with the victim on multiple occasions.

Yesterday, he acknowledged having sex with the girl, who was 13 at the time of his arrest, “six or seven times”, though he emphasised that he believed she was of age.

“I had sex with the victim at a brothel six or seven times, and I always give her a tip of US$10 on top of paying for sex with 30,000 riels (about US$7.15),” he said. “I thought that the girl’s age must be 18 because she wore cute makeup at nighttime, and she agreed to have sex with me voluntarily without forcing.”

Kao Soupha at one point presented as evidence a photograph of the victim taken on the night the brothel was raided. Though he did not provide the gallery a clear view of the photograph, the victim appeared to be wearing a large amount of white foundation.

The victim told the court that Kato had sex with her “four to five times”, and that he typically tipped between $5 and $10.

Kato’s arrest was carried out after he visited the government-run rehabilitation centre where the victim was held following the August 7 brothel raid. He said he paid the victim a visit because he wanted “to know how well she was being treated there”.

Kato has been charged under Article 34 of the Law on the Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation, and if found guilty faces a prison sentence of between seven and 15 years.

Nuon Phanith, a lawyer for the victim provided by the child protection NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, also requested that Kato be made to pay $6,000 in compensation to the victim, and that he be deported once his prison sentence is completed.

Though Kao Soupha asked for the case against Kato to be dropped, deputy prosecutor Hing Bunchea said he planned to press on.
Judges did not announce a verdict date yesterday.

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