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Child sex trial for Brit

Child sex trial for Brit

Suspected paedophile Michael Leach, 50, of London, faints outside Phnom Penh Municipal Court in April.

A British man went on trial yesterday at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for allegedly purchasing child prostitutes in Kandal province.

Michael Julian Leach, 50, a tourist from London, was arrested in September 2010 at Sneha One Guesthouse in Kandal province’s Kien Svay district on suspicion of sexually abusing three girls between the ages of 10 and 15, presiding Judge Oeung Seang said.

Deputy Prosecutor Oeung Seang said there was sufficient evidence against the defendant as well as five Cambodians facing charges related to the child sex crimes. Sem Deth, the guesthouse’s owner, was charged with providing a location for child prostitution and operating a venue for prostitution. Two motorcycle taxi drivers, Penh Phath, 46, and Nov Nhanh, 42, were charged as accomplices. Alleged brokers Pheth Choeun, 46, and Sim Savoeun, 48, were also charged as accomplices.  

The five were charged based on information supplied to police by Leach during an interrogation after his arrest.  

Motodop Nov Nhanh admitted driving Leach around Phnom Penh, but said he was unaware of any criminal activity. Nuon Phanith, the lawyer for the three girls, expressed confidence in the evidence against the accused.  “There is plenty of evidence to prove he committed the crimes. I would like to ask the court to strongly punish him,” he said. He also asked the court to order the accused to pay the three victims US$5,000 each in compensation, and to expel Leach from Cambodia after serving his sentence.

Leach’s attorney could not be reached for comment yesterday. The verdict is due on September 8.