An Italian citizen arrested in June on charges of sexually abusing four young boys while he was vacationing in Cambodia will be tried today in Phnom Penh’s municipal court, officials said.
Fillipe Berutti, 29, was arrested after police spotted him engaging in sexual acts with young boys near the Tonle Sap river. Berutti, who was staying at Phnom Penh’s Capitol Guest House, confessed to police that he had sexual contact with the boys eight times and that he paid them $3.50 per encounter, police said at the time. Berutti also confessed to committing the acts in a French documentary television program in November.
The TV show, Des Racines & Des Ailes [Some Roots and Some Wings], which aired on the channel France 3 earlier this year, features an interview with an uncontrite Berutti in Prey Sar prison.
“I came in this country for a holiday and during this holiday, yes, I do something wrong like go to gather young boys for prostitution,” he told the documentary team. When asked why he chose Cambodia, he replied, “It is very cheap and it is very easy [to procure young boys], but I don’t understand why the police made so much trouble against me…. I don’t do something wrong, I don’t steal, I don’t kidnap. I don’t kill, I only play.”
When the interviewer then asked if it was true that he was “playing with minors,” Berutti replied, “Yes, I do.”
An international court observer who is following Berutti’s case said that Berutti is being charged with debauchery, a crime that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years. Berutti has been incarcerated for nearly nine months, and officials and observers have said that the delay hinges on the allegations that Berutti has refused the services of at least one lawyer provided to him by the Italian Embassy in Bangkok.
To date, Briton John Keeler is the only foreign national to have been sentenced to prison in Cambodia for being a sexual predator.