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Westerner charged with pimping

Westerner charged with pimping

A Frenchman was charged yesterday, May 20, with pimping by the Phnom Penh

municipal court.

Zerinini Hassen, 49, was questioned for three hours

about his ownership of the Le Cyrcée Club, in Street 49, before prosecutor Nget

Sarath decided to charge him.

Hassen was charged under article four and

five of the law covering kidnapping, trafficking and exploitation of human

beings, said a clerk for the prosecutor (who did not want to be named).

Pimping carries a sentence of five to ten years imprisonment.

The clerk said the case had been passed on to investigating judge Nup

Sophon, and Hassen remained at the court while questioning continued into the

afternoon.

Hassen was arrested on May 18 near Hawaii Hotel in Daun Penh

district by the municipal anti-trafficking police, after two former staff filed

complaints against him.

Aarti Kapoor, legal advisor to anti-trafficking

NGO Afesip, said the two women came to the organization around two weeks ago,

saying that Hassen had forced them to do things against their will.

Kapoor said the two women, aged 22 and 23, had agreed to work as

prostitutes but left after a dispute with Hassen.

The prosecutor's clerk

told reporters that Hassen had denied that his bar operated as a brothel, saying

the women were just angry because he dismissed them.

Keo Thea, deputy

chief of the municipal police anti-trafficking bureau, said Zerinini Hassen came

to Cambodia in 2000 and opened Le Cyrc ée Club more than one year ago in Daun

Penh district.

Thea said Hassen told him the bar employed four or five

waiters and waitresses who were paid from $80 to $100 a month, and that other

staff worked on a freelance basis selling sexual services.

Afesip said

the case could set an important precedent for foreign business owners but feared

Hassen could be released without a thorough investigation.

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