Defense lawyer criticizes NGOs, police for not keeping 16-year-old off the street
A Greek man on trial for soliciting a child prostitute and producing pornography denied in court yesterday that he had sex with the then-15-year-old girl even though he had allegedly confessed to the crime earlier to police.
Testifying before the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, Christos Kampalios said he met the girl at the capital’s Wat Phnom and brought her to his guesthouse a total of three times. He told Judge Din Sovuthy the now 16-year-old gave him a massage during the first visit and then he treated the victim’s injured leg during the two subsequent visits.
“I went to Wat Phnom and I saw this girl, who works as a prostitute with two other girls. I thought she must be over eighteen. I asked her if she could do a massage,” he said. “She gave me a massage and she played with me to make me feel aroused. She tried to have sex with me,” Mr Kampalios added.
Arrested on April 11 at his Boeng Kak lake-area guesthouse, Mr Kampalios originally told police and an investigating judge he did have intercourse with the victim, Deputy Prosecutor Sok Kalyan said.
Although denying he had intercourse, Mr Kampalios did concede in court to photographing the girl while she was naked.
The victim testified she slept with the accused on two occasions and said Mr Kampalios agreed to pay her $16 total. She said she was only given $3 in the end.
Mr Kampalios’ lawyer Dun Vibol said police and NGOs are partially at fault for the crime since they did not take responsibility for the girl and keep her from returning back to the streets to a life of prostitution.
Mr Vibol said that he is defending three other French men—Jacques Bernard Rene Collinet, Michel Jean Raymond Charlot and Claude Jean Pierre Demeret—who are all accused of similar crimes and all were arrested based on a statement made by the same girl.
“They should not let her out working like this. It is the police and NGOs’ responsibility,” he said by telephone after the hearing.
“She made four people who are in their 60s and retired go to jail.”
Samleang Seila, country director of the anti-pedophile NGO Action Pour Les Enfants that worked on Mr Kampalios’ case, said Mr Vibol was simply blaming his NGO and authorities for his clients’ crimes.
Phnom Penh chief of the anti-human trafficking police Keo Thea said police tried their best to keep the girl off the streets, and denied that the girl was involved with entrapping the foreign men. “We use our professional and expertise to work. We did not use any trick to arrest the criminal,” he said.
In a separate case, the Siem Reap Provincial Court acquitted a 75-year-old US man in absentia after he was arrested on Feb 2 in Siem Reap city for having sex with four boys ages 10 to 14 years old. Jack Louis Sporich was extradited to the US under an initiative targeting child sex tourism in Cambodia where he would also stand trial.
“The court acquitted him of his indecent acts,” Prosecutor Nuon San said. “We acquitted him since the victims changed their answers. They said this man supported them with their school fees.”
Peng Maneth, an APLE lawyer sent to defend one of the victims, said the court should rehear the case because she and other victims’ lawyers were not called to the court.
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