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Sentences upheld by Appeal Court in '07 paedophilia case

Sentences upheld by Appeal Court in '07 paedophilia case

Cambodia's Appeal Court on Monday refused to reduce the prison sentences handed down two years ago against defendents convicted of operating one of the Kingdom's most brutal paedophilia rings.

The two Germans and three Vietnamese had hoped their sentences would be reduced under new anti-trafficking legislation that has resulted in several sex offenders' prison terms being slashed.

Following a massive August 2006 police raid on the house of reputed mastermind Karl Heinz Henning, then 61, the five were sentenced in 2007 for their roles in trafficking and abusing underage Vietnamese girls.

At Henning's house, police seized vast amounts of sadomasochistic child pornography - primarily images and footage of Henning and other older Western men whipping and raping bound children.

Also during the raid, authorities rescued four Vietnamese girls found naked in the house and confiscated pornographic videocassettes and VCDs, together with film production equipment. The girls were aged 10, 11, 13 and 14 at the time.

The Appeal Court upheld a Phnom Penh Municipal Court conviction from 2007 but changed some articles in accordance with the new law.

Reading the verdict, presiding Judge Chaem Vicharit said: "We upheld Phnom Penh Court's 2007 conviction, but we changed to the new law under Article 15 about the act of selling with intent, Article 28 about procurement with regard to child prostitution and Article 34 about the purchase of child prostitution."

German national Thomas Sigwart Eugen Baron von Engelhardt, 44, was jailed for 12 years. Karl Heinz Henning, also German, was sentenced to 28 years. Two Vietnamese women and one Vietnamese man were jailed for between 15 and 20 years.

Peng Maneth, a lawyer with Action Pour Les Enfants - the anti-paedophile NGO involved in the 2006 raid that prompted the charges - praised the verdict but said the victims should have been compensated.

"We welcome the Appeal Court's decision to uphold the lower court's conviction, but we feel terribly sorry that the five offenders have not been ordered to pay compensation for victims," he said.

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