The long-delayed trial of accused pedophile Alain Berruti did not go off Friday as planned due to the accused man’s disapproval of his court-appointed lawyer. Chief Judge Nop Sophan gave the defendant one week to choose an acceptable attorney and said the new trial would take place in two weeks.
The 29-year-old Italian national’s appearance in Phnom Penh Municipal Court Friday was marked by insolent and erratic behavior as he refused his court-appointed attorney, quarreled with his translator and made obscene gestures at the media.
At the start of the trial, Berruti attempted to reject the services of a court appointed translator, saying to the man: “I don’t trust you.” However when Berruti tried to present the judge with a prepared statement in Khmer, Nop Sophan ordered the translator to translate.
The judge then asked Berruti if he was satisfied with his court-appointed attorney, a woman named Neth Thavry. Berruti said that he was not, but that he would be happy to consider anyone else the court chooses, as long as the lawyer is not a woman. “I want a man,” he said.
Neth Thavry said Friday she agreed to defend Berruti because it is every defendant’s right to have legal representation. “[But] this man was very rude. I have never had a client like him,” she said.
Berruti has been jailed for longer than the maximum six month pre-trial detention period. Officials and observers say Berruti has refused at least one attorney provided by the Italian Embassy in Bangkok during the lead-up to the trial.
Berruti declined to comment to the press before and after the trial, but made an obscene gesture for television and news cameras as he arrived at the courthouse.
Berruti was arrested in June after police caught him engaging in sexual acts with young boys near the Tonle Sap, shortly after he arrived in Cambodia for a vacation.
At the time, police reported that Berruti had confessed to them that he paid four young boys $3.50 for each sex encounter. Berruti also admitted on a French documentary television program that he had procured sex with young boys, but said that, “I don’t do something wrong…I only play.”