A 58-year-old fortuneteller in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district was arrested last week on suspicion of purchasing child sex after 10 teenage girls came forward to lodge complaints against the man, police said yesterday.
Keo Thea, police chief of the Phnom Penh municipal anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection unit, said Lim Chanthorn was arrested at his Russei Keo home on Thursday. “Now the suspect has been detained at the anti-human trafficking police station,” Mr Thea said.
Police accused Mr Chanthorn, a practicing fortuneteller and traditional healer, of luring children into his home, where he would allegedly pay them a few dollars for engaging in sex acts, he said.
“We have received 10 complaints lodged by victims,” Mr Thea said, adding the victims were girls between 13 years and 15 years of age.
“We are investigating for more details on the case, we believe more than 10 victims…are involved,” Mr Thea added.
Deputy Phnom Penh prosecutor Plang Sophal said he was preparing to lay charges against Mr Chanthorn. “We are preparing [court] documents and to make charges against him” today, he said.
Samleang Seila, country director of child protection NGO APLE, which supplied police with information about the case, said Friday that the suspect lived close to Russei Keo Primary School, enabling him to lure pupils home.
Mr Seila said the court should hand down a severe sentence against Mr Chanthorn. “I request the court to punish the suspect very seriously because the case has serious effects on society,” he said, adding that abused children could suffer psychological consequences later in life.
Purchasing sex with a child under the age of 15 is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Mr Seila said he could not say with certainty if purchasing child sex was on the rise but added that 37 child abuse suspects had been arrested in 2010, more than during the same period last year.