Cambodia jails Frenchman for 17 years for sex crime

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A Cambodian court on Wednesday sentenced a 45-year-old Frenchman to 17 years in jail for transporting two teenage boys from one province to another with the purpose of sexual exploitation.

Sihanoukville provincial court, in the country's southern coastal area, also ordered Michel Blanchard to pay each of the two victims, both 16 years old, three million riel (700 dollars) in compensation.

The Frenchman, who transported the boys from another province to Sihanoukville, was arrested in August 2008 and has already served a jail term for indecent acts against a boy under the age of 15.

Blanchard's lawyer Dy Boryma told reporters outside the court that his client was likely to contest the sentence.

"My client will probably ask me to appeal the conviction because he thought it was very unjust," he said.

In a separate case at the same court on Wednesday, an American man was jailed for three years for buying sex from four boys between the ages of 15 and 17.

Each victim will receive one million riel in compensation, the judge said.

The 57-year-old was found not guilty of possessing child pornography.

Cambodia's age of consent is 15 but all payment for sex is illegal.

General Bith Kimhong, who heads the interior ministry's anti-trafficking unit, welcomed the verdicts, which he said showed that Cambodia's "anti-human trafficking police is taking very serious action".

Cambodia has struggled to shed its reputation as a haven for paedophiles, putting dozens of foreigners in jail for child sex crimes or deporting them to face trial in their home countries since 2003.

© 2010 AFP

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