The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Sunday charged a 48-year-old French man with buying sex from a minor, officials said yesterday.
Olivier Madrieres was arrested Saturday morning at the Ponleu Dara guesthouse in Daun Penh district’s Phsar Thmei III commune after police caught him in the company of a 15-year-old girl, according to Judge Te Samnang, assigned to investigate the case.
“He was charged with buying child prostitution,” said Judge Samnang, adding that Mr Madrieres was still being questioned at the court yesterday and had not yet been provisionally detained in prison.
The alleged offense carries a prison term of two to five years.
The French Embassy said it was aware of the arrest and that Mr Madrieres would receive consular assistance.
Keo Thea, chief of the municipal anti-human trafficking police office, said yesterday that Mr Madrieres had been caught after allegedly having sexual relations with the girl twice.
“We arrested him red-handed while he was taking a bath and about to operate,” said Mr Thea, adding that Mr Madrieres was on his third visit to Cambodia since last year.
“It was the third night with the girl. The first time he paid her $10 and the second time he paid her $20,” he said
Phnom Penh police chief Touch Naruth said that police are acting to shut down brothels, bars and guesthouses where sex is sold.
“Sex workers are illegal. And we are cracking down on all the people having sex with underage girls,” he said.
He said both the teenager and the Frenchman were to blame for the alleged offense but that Mr Madrieres bore heavier responsibility even if he did not know the girl’s correct age. Under the 2008 anti-human trafficking statute, minors cannot be punished for soliciting.
Contact information for the guesthouse operators was not immediately available.
(Additional reporting by Douglas Gillison)