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Child sex trial hears evidence, conspiracy

Child sex trial hears evidence, conspiracy

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Jacques Bernard Collinet leaves the court on Wednesday.

THERE WAS A CONSPIRACY WITH ANTI-PAEDOPHILE NGOS, NGO SHELTER CENTRES AND POLICE TO PROSECUTE…

A French national accused of having sex with a 16-year-old Cambodian girl will learn his fate next week after a Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge heard evidence against the 63-year-old Wednesday.

Jacques Bernard Rene Collinet stands accused of "the purchase of child prostitution". He was arrested in April at the International Guesthouse in Daun Penh district's Kandal 2 commune, after the girl's mother contacted anti-human trafficking police to accuse the man of raping her daughter.

During the four-hour hearing, Collinet denied the charges and insisted he never had sex with the girl. He said the girl told him she was actually 18 years old, by writing the number on her hand. Collinet said he met the girl near Wat Phnom - where he said he hangs out and does exercises - and she agreed to come to his guesthouse to give him a massage.

The alleged victim, however, told the court a different story. "I agreed to go with him ... to his guesthouse for a massage," she said, "but once I got into his room, he ordered me to bathe and then he put on a condom. Then he had sex with me." The girl testified Collinet gave her US$25 in total after having sex four times.

Defence lawyer Dun Vibol, however, claimed the girl was a prostitute. She is listed as a victim in three other child prostitution purchasing cases against other foreigners. "There was a conspiracy with anti-paedophile NGOs, NGO shelter centres and police to prosecute foreigners to earn money," he said.

The head of one group specialising in child sexual exploitation scoffed at the suggestion. "To accuse our organisation and police of conspiring with the victim to prosecute the man is not only untrue but an insult," said Samleang Seila, country director for Action Pour Les Enfants.

If convicted, Collinet faces up to five years in prison. The victim's mother is also asking the court to impose a fine of US$5,000 in compensation.

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