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Cambodia charges French man in childsex case

PHNOM PENH, Feb 20 (AFP) – A Cambodian court on Friday charged a French man with sexually abusing five boys aged 12 and 14, and warned he faces up to 20 years in jail if found guilty.

Jacques Philippe Albertine, 62, a retired photographer, was arrested Tuesday when police and activists spotted him allegedly trying to solicit a young boy on the streets of the capital.

“He was charged with committing debauchery against underaged boys. And if the court finds him guilty, according to the law he will face between 10 and 20 years in prison,” said Kong Seth, investigating judge at the Phnom Penh municipal court.

Kong Seth said several boys had filed complaints to police that they were molested by Albertine, but that he denied the accusation.

A 61-year-old American man, who was charged with molesting three boys aged 10 to 13 by the same court in December, was deported on Wednesday to the United States to stand trial.

Richard Arthur Schmidt was rearrested late December while in the company of a young boy after he had earlier been released on bail pending the investigation of child-sex charges against him.

At least three Americans have been charged with molesting Cambodian children since December.

Cambodia has earned itself a reputation as a haven for paedophiles, partly due to the country’s lawlessness and culture of impunity after nearly three decades of war.

But recently it has begun a campaign to crack down on suspected paedophiles, and adopted a policy of deporting foreigners arrested on charges of having sex with minors for trial in their home countries.

On Tuesday, a New Zealand man was sentenced to 20 years in prison for raping five mostly underage girls in the northwestern town of Siem Reap, gateway to the famed Angkor temple complex.

The heavy punishment was aimed at sending a message that Cambodia is not a haven for sexual tourism, the court said.

John Miller, director of the US State Department’s office to monitor and combat trafficking in humans, arrived here Friday on a regional tour to promote a world campaign against people trafficking, a US embassy official said.

Miller was scheduled to meet with senior government officials and representatives from international and local non-governmental groups.


                                                              Subject: France news