A 48-year-old French national convicted of paying to have sex with a 16-year-old prostitute vowed he would never return to Cambodia as he was escorted out of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday, after being sentenced to a largely suspended jail term.
Olivier Madrieres, 48, who was found guilty yesterday of buying sex from a 16-year-old girl last November and sentenced to two years in prison, will walk free in two weeks having served seven months in prison since he was arrested and charged.
Presiding Judge Ke Sakhon told the court yesterday that the remainder of Mr Madrieres sentence would be suspended and that the French national would be forced to pay three million riel (about $714) in compensation to the teenager and her family.
As he was led back to a holding room for prisoners at the court, Mr Madrieres maintained his innocence, telling reporters that he believed the prostitute was 21 when he took her back to his guesthouse in the capital’s Daun Penh district on Nov 21.
“The girl showed me her ID and it said that she was 21-years-old,” Mr Madrieres said, adding that he had gone dancing with the teenager three times at the Heart of Darkness nightclub before he was arrested.
He said that he would leave Cambodia as soon as he was released.
“This is seven months in jail for nothing. I will never come back,” he said. “If you search for my name on the Internet, now it is associated with pedophilia.”
Police arrested Mr Madrieres in the company of the 16-year-old sex worker at the Ponleu Dara guesthouse in Daun Penh district’s Phsar Thmei III commune at about 3:30 am on Nov 21.
According to the teenager’s statement, which was read at the court on May 31, she met Mr Madrieres at the popular Walkabout Bar, where she had worked for about 10 days, and had sex with him twice-earning $30.
The girl’s lawyer, Noun Phanith, said yesterday that he was disappointed that the judges had not banished Mr Madrieres from the country as part of his sentence.
Mr Madrieres’ lawyer Dun Vibol said he was disappointed with the result of the trial, claiming that his client was an innocent man.
“The verdict is not justice for my client,” he said, adding that Mr Madrieres had no intention of appealing the judges’ decision.