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Swiss hostel owner guilty in child sex case

Swiss national Erich Bader was convicted of child sex offences and sentenced to two years in prison by the Siem Reap provincial court yesterday.

Bader, who owns the Prince Mekong Villa guesthouse in Siem Reap, was found guilty of purchasing child prostitution from two minors, aged 11 and 16 at the time of the offences.

Presiding Judge Oeun Vanna told the court yesterday Bader had violated both the law and the moral standards of the community.

“After a long investigation and a five-hour trial we have decided to sentence him to two years in prison, backdated to his arrest in August [2010] and have ordered him to pay compensation of nine million riel to his victims,” he said.

“The court cannot believe his denial of the charges as he has no witnesses, and because his answers appear calculated to protect himself.”

The testimony of five of Bader’s former staff members, who defended his overall good character, was ruled inadmissible by Oeun Vanna on the grounds that they had too close a relationship with the accused.

Bader, who previously served a two-year prison term for child sex offences in Switzerland, moved to Siem Reap six years ago where he began operating a small guesthouse. Police prevented journalists from taking comments from Bader after yesterday’s trial.

During the trial Bader’s lawyer Li Veng Chheng argued that confusion during the initial police investigation about the dates of his offences had compromised the case. “The police arrested Bader without having any clear proof or witnesses especially about dates he is alleged to have performed the offences,” he said last month.

But Oeun Vanna rejected the argument, downplaying the mistakes as minor clerical errors that did not affect the overall conduct of the police investigation.

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