The Appeal Court yesterday upheld the guilty verdict of a 43-year-old French national convicted of committing indecent acts against an 8-year-old boy in Preah Sihanouk city, but extended his prison sentence from one year to one year and seven months.
After convicting Michel Blanchard of the crime last May, Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court ordered the French national to serve only nine months of a one-year jail term and pay $50 in compensation. With time already served since his August 2008 arrest, Mr Blanchard was to be released the next day. But an appeal filed by the provincial prosecutor has kept him behind bars since.
Yesterday, Appeal Court Judge Nhuong Thol said the previous sentence was insufficient, “so the court decided to sentence Mr Blanchard…to serve one year and seven months in jail and still orders him to pay $50 in compensation to the victim.” Mr Blanchard is scheduled to be released next month.
Mr Blanchard’s lawyer, Dy Borima, opposed yesterday’s extension.
“This sentence is not justice because my client did not perform an indecent act with the boy,” he said, adding Mr Blanchard was absent because of an unspecified illness.
The victim’s lawyer, however, Ngeth Sarath, said the sentence was not harsh enough.
“I think more foreigners are coming to Cambodia to sexually abuse minors, so I asked the judge to please do justice in this case,” he said.
Peng Maneth, a lawyer for anti-pedophile NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, said the court also failed in its duty by not imposing the additional penalty of ordering Mr Blanchard to leave the country after he serves his sentence.