TWO foreigners have been arrested for paedophilia, as police pledge an ongoing crack-down
on child-sex crimes, in what are likely to become test cases under Cambodia's new
sexual trafficking law.
A Frenchman, Amedee Hennion, was arrested Feb 28 by police from Cambodian Interpol
office, and a Canadian-German, named by police as Manfred Horst Albert, was detained
four days later.
The men, both aged 53, had not been formerly charged at Post press time. Authorities
said they would be prosecuted under the new human trafficking and prostitution law,
which carries sentences of up to 20 years imprisonment for crimes against children.
Hennion was arrested at his home by Interpol director General Skadavy M Ly Roun,
who declared: "This...is a warning to other foreigners that Cambodia is no longer
a place where you can come and enjoy yourself as you wish - you have to respect our
"Other French, German and Australian paedophiles, now hiding in guest houses
and hotels in Phnom Penh, are also under investigation and further arrests will follow,"
the general said.
After his arrest, Hennion was paraded in front of reporters at the Interpol office,
in what Skadavy said was an attempt to raise "the issue of children's rights".
Close to 100 photographs of partially-dressed children, which police said had been
found at Hennion's house when he was arrested, were displayed at the press conference.
Police said they were detaining seven boys, three of whom were in the house at the
time of his arrest.
Several of his alleged victims - said to be aged 13 and 14 - were also produced
at a press conference, one saying that Hennion had paid him $4 for oral sex on two
Hennion, produced separately for reporters, protested his innocence and said he would
go on a hunger strike.
Skadavy accused Hennion of having sex with more than 100 Cambodian boys since November
1995, when he arrived in the country.
Hennion told police he was a freelance photographer. Other sources say he had told
people he was in Cambodia to prepare a book on the Angkor temples.
His arrest is understood to have been prompted by information given by a foreign
informant in Phnom Penh.
Albert, a Canadian citizen born in Germany, was arrested Mar 4 at the Capital Hotel
coffee shop, according to Skadavy. He would face the same charges as Hennion but
the two cases were not connected, police said.
Skadavy said Albert lived in Bangkok but had frequently come to Cambodia as a tourist,
and his arrest followed complaints from children.
At the Post's press time, Albert had yet to appear in court. Hennion was taken to
Phnom Penh Municipal Court three days after his arrest. He was not formerly charged
but a judge ordered him detained for up to 4-6 months pending a court investigation.
Skadavy's high-profile campaign against paedophiles has caused shock and disbelief
among other police and Phnom Penh locals.
"When I told my police about this crime, they thought it was funny, they laughed,"
Skadavy said of Hennion's case. "My colleagues said why would any man want to
sleep with young boys when we have a lot of young girl prostitutes available."
He said he also had to explain what child sex abuse was to the mothers of the victims.
"They did not believe sex between men and young children, especially boys, could
happen. They thought [Hennion] was teaching their children French."
The group End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism (ECPAT) welcomed Skadavy's efforts,
which it hoped would have a "deterrent effect" on other sex tourists, but
also noted the larger problem of the sexual exploitation of under-age girls by Cambodians
Sun Kong Sith of ECPAT said: "Tourism is actually a small part of the problem...
the trafficking of mainly female children into prostitution is what is increasing."
The only two previous arrests of foreigners for child-sex offenses were of an Austrian
man convicted in June 1995 but given a suspended sentence, and of a British doctor
arrested the same month and convicted of raping boys. The doctor served five months
in jail and remains in Phnom Penh.