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French nationals face child sex trial in Battambang

French nationals face child sex trial in Battambang

Two French nationals were yesterday accused in Battambang provincial court of sexually assaulting two teenage boys in one of the city’s hotels last year.

The two men, 63-year-old Denis Page and 67-year-old Jean Vidon, were arrested at a hotel by police on October 25, 2011, on purchase of child prostitution charges under article 34 of Cambodia’s Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation law.

The suspects have been in pre-trial detention at Battambang prison since their arrest.

After approaching the 15-and 17-year-old victims in a park by the city’s peaceful Sangkae river, the suspects persuaded the boys to follow them to their hotel room, offering between $10 and $20 in exchange for sex, police said.

“The two men had each boy taking turns to commit the [sex] act on both men in the one hotel room,” the victims’ lawyer, Hong Sambath, said.

Although admitting to the crime – but claiming the boys lied about their ages – in initial police statements, both defendants denied the sexual abuse charges yesterday, telling the court they had asked for massages only, Sambath said.

“They told the court they are MSM [men who have sex with men] and just bought the boys for a massage only,” he said, adding he believed there was enough evidence against the defendants to convict them.

Under the law, punishment for purchasing sex from a minor over 15 years old ranges from two to five years in prison.

After the arrest, the victims were counselled and rehabilitated by social workers from NGO Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE).

APLE project officer Vando Khoem said Page had prior convictions for a series of rapes in Thailand and France, adding he was on a sex offender’s registry list which he had to report to twice a year, and was arrested in 1997 on pedophilia charges in Thailand and sentenced to a year in prison.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chhay Channyda at [email protected]

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