Convicted Pedophile Tried in Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday tried in absentia a 61-year-old French convicted pedophile accused of committing indecent acts with four underage boys in November 2009.

Jean-Marie Baranger was absent from the trial because he is already serving a one-year sentence in Kampot province after being convicted in June of sex crimes against two other boys. He was also acquitted of committing indecent acts against another boy in a separate case in Preah Sihanouk province in August.

At yesterday’s hearing, four boys between 13 and 15-years-old testified that Baranger had touched them inappropriately after meeting them on Phnom Penh’s riverfront last year.

One 13-year-old scavenger said that in November he was collecting trash along the river when he met Baranger, who gave him 1,000 riel and later took him to buy clothes at a nearby market.

“After that, the French man met us at the riverside and did indecent acts to our penises and put his hand into my bottom and gave me $1,” the boy continued.

In a statement from Baranger read aloud in court, the accused claimed that he had merely given the children money to buy food because he pitied them.

“I never committed the indecent acts on the children,” the statement said.

Defense lawyer Tann Mengsroy said that the four children had given conflicting statements about when the alleged abuse occurred, and that the riverside was so crowded that it would be hard to commit indecent acts there.

However, the victims’ lawyer, Noun Phanith, said there was ample evidence that Baranger really had sexually assaulted his clients. He pointed out that cases against Baranger kept on popping up, and demanded a conviction and $2,000 in compensation for three of the boys. The family of the fourth boy, whose father was present in court, asked for $5,000 in compensation.

Judge Kor Vandy said a verdict in the case would be handed down on Dec 29.


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