Saturday, December 02, 2006

Frenchman, 2 Cambodians Cleared of Debauchery

Thursday, November 30, 2006

By Prak Chan Thul

Kompong Chhnang Provincial Court on Sunday released a French tourist and two Cambodian men suspected of debauchery, saying the youths, who police had alleged were victims in the case, were not under the legal age of consent.

But Police said Wednesday that one of the youths, a 16-year-old, has since alleged the Frenchman raped him and that they intend to build another case against the tourist.

Police in the provincial capital Saturday arrested the Frenchman, who they identified as 37-year-old Alain Jean, as well as Cambodians Um Makara and Song Neath, both 23, said Hong Yin, provincial anti-human trafficking office deputy chief.

Authorities became suspicious when Um Makara and Song Neath were seen bringing young boys to Jean at the Samraong Sen Hotel, according to Mak Panny, chief prosecutor at the court.

After arresting the men, police discovered that four youths taken to the hotel were between the ages of 16 and 20. Under Cambodian law, the age of consent is 15.

Mak Panny said that in court, Jean denied having sex with the boys and claimed that he had only paid them for massages.

"After the arrests, I checked all his materials," Mak Panny said. "He was not involved in any crime"

One of the 16-year-old boys involved in the case has since lodged a complaint with police, alleging that Jean raped him, Hong Yin said.

"I will build the case again. I am looking for more witnesses," he said adding that Jean is reportedly still in Phnom Penh.

Hong Yin said he felt sex between men was immoral and against "tradition," but added that his personal views had nothing to do with the case against the Frenchman.

(Additional reporting by Douglas Gillison)

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