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France seeks child porn suspect's release

France seeks child porn suspect's release

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French Embassy efforts to secure the release of a French national facing charges of child sex abuse and pornography in Sihanoukville has prompted anger and concern among investigating police and child protection workers.

Pierre Guynot

Pierre Guynot, 44, was arrested on May 31 while in the process of downloading an image of a naked male youth from a digital camera onto his computer, and faces charges of debauchery involving child pornography, illegal weapons possession and illegal detention.

However the Post has been informed by police and NGO representatives that the French Embassy is now reportedly seeking Guynot's release and repatriation to France due to an alleged heart ailment.

"The French Embassy should not use this as a pretext for his release," said Chrin Vanne, chief investigating officer of the Ministry of Interior's donor-funded Law Enforcement Against Sexual Ex-ploitation of Children Project (LEASECP). "This individual has lived in Cambodia since 1990 with no record of any heart problem, so why has this heart condition surfaced only since he was arrested?"

A French Embassy official who refused to identify herself declined any comment on any aspect of Guynot's case.

Guynot's arrest followed more than three months of investigations into reports that he routinely physically and sexually abused male street children that he "adopted" and took to live and work at his go-cart business in Sihanoukville's Mittapheap District. Two boys under the age of fifteen have made official complaints against Guynot and police expect others to follow suit.

"Many boys were lured into [sexual abuse] and right now we can't yet estimate the total number of Guynot's victims," said Colonel Ten Borany, LEASECP Coordinator.

Police have confiscated more than twenty photo prints of naked local male youths found in Guynot's home as well as 182 VCDs, computer diskettes and Guynot's computer for analysis to determine whether Guynot was marketing images of child pornography on the internet.

"Guynot routinely took photos of naked boys at a pool at his home...boys who agreed to swim without clothes were not charged for swimming while those who did [wear clothes] were charged," Vanne said. "When we arrested him he grabbed his computer and told us we couldn't have it so we suspect he may have been putting pornographic pictures on the internet."

Some of Guynot's alleged activities which investigators described as "particularly vicious and sadistic" involved the padlocking of boys genitals and in at least one instance the confinement of a boy in a cargo container without food or water.

"[Guynot] used his relatively stronger economic position to effect a power relationship on the children and some of [Guynot's] activities involving children were extreme to the point of perverse," said Laurence Gray of World Vision and current Chairperson of LEACECP's Steering Committee. "That abuse has resulted in physical harm to the children and in the long term will affect how they view both themselves and their relationships with other people."

Gray expressed deep concern about reports that the French Embassy was in the process of assisting Guynot's release from prison and suggested that such a move would be a violation of Cambodian sovereignty.

"Something disturbing to hear is that the French Embassy is concerned about [Guynot's] health and is wanting to get him out of prison, though I'm not aware of any statement from the Embassy about the welfare [of Guynot's alleged victims] and the conduct of this individual," Gray said. "There are issues of sovereignty involved here because [Guynot] was arrested in this country for violations of this country's laws and any effort to facilitate his leaving the country doesn't respect the sovereignty of Cambodia."

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