Accused British sex offender Derek Baston maintained his innocence before the Phnom Penh Municipal Court Tuesday and characterized himself as a victim of a police sting operation.
Baston, who was arrested in a Svay Pak brothel in late July with an underage girl, was charged with debauchery and could spend between 10 and 20 years behind bars if convicted.
“I never touched the girl,” said a visibly upset Baston on Tuesday—shaking uncontrollably as he spoke to Phnom Penh Municipal Judge Hing Thirith. “I should be released because I have done nothing wrong…I just want to go home.”
Baston said that on the day he was arrested, he was at a “chalet” in Svay Pak and was led to a waiting room. While in the room, which he characterized as having many windows, a girl came in who looked lost, he said.
“I thought maybe [the girl] was the daughter of the woman who owned the chalet, and maybe she was lost,” he said. “I said to her ‘you must be lost.’”
The girl then went to the bathroom and undressed, Baston said, adding that the girl looked frightened. Before he could react, police started banging on the door of the room, entered and took several photos of him and the girl, he said.
The photos, which were submitted to the court as evidence, showed a fully clothed Baston sitting on a bed smoking on a cigarette with the girl, who is naked, according to Heidi Lichteveld, who is serving as a legal adviser to the Cambodian attorney representing Baston.
Hing Thirith declined to hand down a judgment on Tuesday and returned the case to the investigating judge for a further inquiry. Baston, who has remained at Prey Sar prison since his arrest more than five months ago, was returned to the jail.