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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Suspect's freedom worries families, NGO

Suspect's freedom worries families, NGO

Lawyers and police have expressed concern that a French pedophile suspect is living

freely in Sihanoukville and will be able to threaten potential witnesses. The suspect,

Pierre Guynot, also recently sent an email to a local NGO, Friends, threatening to

turn Phnom Penh into a "throat-cutting place for Europeans" after the NGO

encouraged boys to testify against him.

The lawyer for the majority of the alleged victims told the Post that families of

potential witnesses were now living in fear. Chum Sophea, a lawyer registered with

the Cambodian Bar Association, said some families of alleged victims told him they

had been threatened to withdraw their complaints.

"The victims' families told me that Guynot's foster son threatened to kill them

and burn down their houses," said Chum Sophea. "Now they are scared. They

are wondering if the problem will end if they agree to accept $600 each to withdraw

the complaints against Guynot."

Pierre Guynot appeared in court at a preliminary hearing in Sihanoukville November

30 on charges of debauchery and illegal possession of a weapon. His adoptive son

was charged with illegal confinement of a minor.

The judge ruled there was insufficient evidence against Guynot and instructed further

investigation be carried out to find more victims. Guynot was released on bail the

following day.

"Although the evidence has not been proven 100 percent, Pierre Guynot cannot

escape the law," said Chum Sophea. "[Based on] the evidence, the verdict

should be delivered convicting him on the charge of debauchery."

Guynot, 45, has run a go-karting business in Sihanoukville since 1995. He was arrested

May 31 last year.

Tak Kimsea, the prosecuting judge at Sihanoukville court, said he would finish his

investigation early next month after revisiting the victims. He said some of the

witnesses had been pressured into testifying against Guynot by a local NGO.

"They said they were persuaded by an organization [Mith Samlanh/Friends] and

were pushed to complain against Guynot," said Kimsea, adding that two of the

boys had since recanted their testimony.

Police officer Chhrin Vanne, who led the investigation, said some of the boys who

had changed their testimony told him they had fled Guynot's house and taken refuge

in Phnom Penh at Friends. He said one boy, whose genitals were padlocked, claimed

he was sexually abused by Guynot while staying at his house.

Vanne said he did not know why that boy had withdrawn his complaint, but suggested

Guynot should be sent back to jail to protect the victims.

Guynot recently sent an email to Friends threatening to "cut the throats"

of "Europeans in Phnom Penh". That was in response to a documentary about

his case broadcast by French station TF1, whose journalist interviewed him in prison

last year. Guynot believes that a French expatriate who spoke out against Guynot

in the documentary was Sébastian Marot, coordinator of Friends.

"...TF1 to whom I gave [an interview] for two hours, showed only five minutes,"

wrote Guynot. "The voice of the 'investigator' of the Phnom Penh NGO was recognized,

so this man is identified... Now I go to bed, alone and quiet, knowing that from

this evening this is a beginning, the streets of Phnom Penh will become a throat-cutting

place..."

The email goes on to state that Guynot would stay in Sihanoukville "waiting

the 'continuous information' broadcasts to me some death notices (sic) that will

not come from the Gaza Strip".

Friends has contacted the embassies of its staff to alert them of the threats to

their nationals.

The case of suspected Italian pedophile Luigi Falchi is currently pending trial.

Falchi was arrested November 26 last year for allegedly paying money to have sex

with three boys aged between 7 and 12, in Poipet. The prosecuting judge, Nou Yarith,

said the suspect can speak only Italian and was looking for an Italian-speaking lawyer

to represent him.

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