Stripping shutterbugs deported

Three French nationals walk through the halls of Siem Reap Provincial Court
Three French nationals walk through the halls of Siem Reap Provincial Court on Saturday where they were sentenced for their involvement in nude portraits at the Banteay Kdei temple. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Stripping shutterbugs deported

Three French nationals who posed nude at a sacred Siem Reap temple were flown out of Cambodia yesterday after a judge ordered their deportation.

Siem Reap provincial judge Kuy Soa on Saturday handed down six-month suspended prison sentences and ordered the deportation of three French nationals who posed nude for photographs at Banteay Kdei temple.

Defendants Vincent Henri, 20, Rodolphe Fourgeot, 21, and Alexander Andre Raymond, 22, must also each pay 1 million riel ($250) as part of the sentence. He convicted the trio of trafficking in pornographic images.

“Siem Reap court has decided to sentence them six months [suspended], fined them 1 million riel, and banned them from Cambodian territory for four years,” Soa said in an interview yesterday.

The three men were flown out of the Kingdom for France via Siem Reap International Airport at about 2am yesterday, said Chao Sun Kerya, spokeswoman for the Apsara Authority, which oversees Siem Reap’s temples.

A guard caught Henri, Fourgeot and Raymond in the act on Thursday, Sun Kerya said. All confessed to the crime, but said they did not fully understand the impact of their actions until after they had taken the nude photos, she added.

“This is an illegal action; immediately after temple guard officials found them naked for photos in Banteay Kdei temple, they admitted to the act,” Sun Kerya said.

After their Thursday indiscretion, the men posted a video online apologising, saying they did not understand the gravity of the cultural faux pas.

The deportations came about a week after photos of partially clothed women posing at Banteay Kdei temple surfaced online, with a watermark for “WANIMAL”, a Chinese photo-sharing website.

Those photos, which were seen on a WANIMAL account which includes photos of nude women posing with exotic backgrounds, were also decried by Apsara Authority officials as disrespectful to Khmer culture.

Siem Reap tourism police officer Soung Seng Kim yesterday underscored the department’s position that taking nude photos at sacred sites runs contrary to the law and cultural respect.

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