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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - "Why boys with dirty feet and no shoes?"

"Why boys with dirty feet and no shoes?"

T HE Austrian man believed to be the first foreign pedophile convicted in

Cambodia lived in a small Phnom Penh house where he was regularly visited by

small boys "with dirty feet and no shoes".

His landlady says the man at

first welcomed the boys, apparently streetchildren, but later asked them to be

locked out because they were demanding money from him.

The man,

identified as Josef Schlik (though is surname is also spelled as Sehilk and

Sechilk on court records), was convicted on June 2 of committing sexual acts

with two boys.

He received a one year suspended prison sentence -

described by one child care worker as "ridiculous" - and was released by the

Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

He later moved out of his second-floor home

in Street 111, where landlady Hong Navy said six or seven boys often visited


"They would come and knock on the gate," said Navy. "Sometimes the

gate was open and they came in...they would go upstairs and stay there for an

hour and then leave. Sometimes I said 'I will not allow you to come in', but he

would let them in."

Later, Schlik several times asked her to lock the

children out because they were asking for money. The boys would stand outside

the gate cursing.

She said the boys usually visited him in groups of two

or three, but sometimes all at the same time.

The boys looked like they

were aged between 10-14 and were unkempt and poorly clothed.

"It was

strange to me. There are a lot of beautiful women in Phnom Penh. Why does a man

need boys with dirty feet and no shoes?"

She said Schlik lived with a

Thai man, aged in his 20s, who was his "cook". The pair, who said they had come

from Thailand, had moved into the house, along with a Khmer man, four months

ago. The Khmer man stayed about a month before leaving.

Navy said she did

not know what the Austrian - described as a businessman by court officials - did

for a living but he spent most of his time at the house.

Navy, speaking

on June 8, said the man and his Thai friend had moved out of the house the day

before. They had loaded their possessions on a vehicle, apparently a taxi, and

said they would spend a night at hotel before leaving Cambodia.

"He told

us he was going back to Thailand, but maybe he told us a lie. I don't


She presumed the man had moved out of her house because he was

humiliated - news of his arrest had spread quickly - though she professed that

she still respected him "very much".

Schlik, aged 52, was arrested on the

night of May 31 and pleaded guilty to child sex charges in Phnom Penh Municipal

Court three days later.

He admitted to the court committing sexual acts

with two boys aged 13 or 14, according to his verbal "confession" recorded in

court documents.

"The children agreed to sleep with me because they

wanted money," the documents, in Khmer, quote him saying.

"I have been

involved with the sexual [use] of the two children, who are boys. I sucked their

penises. I believe they are 13 or 14 years-old."

Schlik is quoted as

saying he paid the boys 10,000 riels each and gave them some food.


and court officials say it was, to their knowledge, the first prosecution of a

foreigner for such a crime.

The suspended sentence given to him, however,

has disappointed child care groups.

Schlik was charged under Article 42

of the UNTAC penal law, which provides for 2-6 years' imprisonment for

procuring, enticing or leading away minors for prostitution, or for sexually

exploiting minors even with their consent.

The law allows judges to

partially or totally suspend sentences.

Judge Oum Sarith, the court

president, would not discuss his sentence. But court officials said one reason

he cited for the suspending Schlik's jail sentence was that the victims were not

injured by his actions.

One child care worker, who would not be named,

described the sentence as ridiculous and "a big mistake" which would do little

to deter pedophiles.

"Everything the judge did was wrong. He made a big

mistake and he knows that everybody knows that."

Meanwhile, a Phnom Penh

policeman who dealt with Schlik's prosecution said he knew of two other recent

cases where police tried to question suspected foreign


Policeman Mok Kim Phai, assigned to a unit dealing with

crimes by foreigners, said that twice in the past two months foreign men had

been seen apparently soliciting sex from young boys.

The men had run off

when police officers had approached them.

Phai said he had been told

second-hand that foreign pedophiles were common in Phnom Penh, but had little

evidence of that.

He said the police would investigate any complaints

about child sex crimes. He agreed that the police "face difficulties" in

gathering evidence on pedophiles' crimes but would not elaborate.


officers said they visited Schlik on the night of May 31 after receiving a

complaint from two boys.

The Austrian was taken to the local district

police station and arrested after he reportedly admitted paying the boys for

sexual favors. Police officers indicated there was physical evidence of sexual

abuse of the boys.



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