2 Foreigners Arrested on Sex Charges

Police arrested two foreigners for allegedly having sex with underage girls Tuesday, following a raid on a brothel on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, police officials said Wednesday.

Japanese citizen Kanae Masato, 54, and German national Elmar Bernhard, 61, were arrested after a raid on Brothel 5 in Svay Pak village, Russei Keo district, said Keo Thea, deputy bureau chief at the anti-human-trafficking and minors protection police department.

Police confiscated a video camera from Masato, which contained footage of him molesting and having sex with a girl who appeared to be about 14. Police seized further footage of Masato having sex with five other allegedly underage girls, Keo Thea said.

“All the girls on the tapes are very young,” he said.

Bernhard was arrested as he tried to escape the brothel through a back door, Keo Thea said.

Two girls in the brothel, ages 12 and 14, later told police that Bern­hard had sex with them, he said.

Eight Vietnamese girls between 12 and 20 were taken into custody after the raid, Keo Thea said.

He said both men will appear today in Phnom Penh Municipal Court on charges of debauchery.

Bernhard, with a receding hair line and glasses, was being de­tained at the Ministry of Interior’s Municipal Trafficking Bureau Wednes­day. He declined to comment on his arrest.

However, he protested against the conditions of his jail cell, which he shared with Masato, and threatened guards, demanding that they remove reporters.

“This is like Tuol Sleng,” he said of the cell, which was well lighted and had a fan.

He described his conditions as “against the law [and] against Amnesty International standards.”

Bernhard said he would phone the German Embassy.

Masato did not comment on his arrest.

The German Em­bassy was contacted at 5:30 pm, but a staff member said it was too late in the evening to comment.

A Japanese Embassy official working on the case said the embassy is preparing to arrange a defense council for Masato.

“We cannot do too much because the Cambodian law en­force­ment authorities have already begun their procedures,” said the official, who asked not to be named. “We cannot intervene,” he added.

In October, a Japanese teacher was arrested after he attempted to enter Japan with a video compact disc containing obscene video footage and thousands of still photographs of children in Cambodia, Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun reported at the time.

Pierre Legros, director of the anti-trafficking NGO Afesip, expressed concern Wednesday about what he says is an increasing number of Japanese nationals coming to Cambodia to make child pornography.

Afesip is conducting medical tests to establish the ages of Bernhard and Masato’s alleged victims, he said. He said he would try to give the eight girls rescued from the brothel the opportunity to return to Vietnam.

“We will work with the [Vietna­mese] Embassy and see if they want to go back to their country,” he said.

 

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