The Japanese tourist arrested for allegedly taking pornographic photos of young girls was charged Tuesday in Phnom Penh Municipal Court with child pornography offenses and could spend up to 20 years in prison if convicted, court officials said.
Kazuyuki Kobata, 30, faces debauchery charges related to child trafficking and exploitation, court clerk Ros Oun told reporters.
“He took [pornographic] photos of one girl aged around 7 or 8 years old,” Ros Oun said. “We will investigate the case more to find out who hired him to take photos.”
Court officials would not say if Kobata confessed to or denied the charges during pre-trial questioning or at Tuesday’s proceedings. He is currently at a detention facility where he can be held for up to six months without a trial.
According to the police and court officials, Kobata was arrested last Wednesday in front of the Orchidee Hotel off Monivong Boulevard where he kept a room for most of June.
The police previously said that the suspect took at least 70 photos of several young girls who had posed naked for him. The police confiscated the photos and undeveloped film roles, authorities said.
The police also said the arrest was prompted by a tip from a photo shop owner near the Orchidee Hotel who developed the photos.
However, staff of the photo shop, SPK Photo Labs and Studio, said Monday that the police had already followed the suspect and waited for the photos being developed at the photo shop.
“The police have a spy to crack down pedophilia,” said Major Pol Phie They, chief of the Phnom Penh Foreign Police, but he declined to elaborate.
Kobata could also be prosecuted in Japan under a new law applied to child sex offenses committed overseas as well as in Japan, according to the Japanese Embassy. The penalties in Japan range from three to 10 years in prison.
According to Article 8 of Cambodia’s Human Trafficking Law on debauchery involving children under 15 years old, the suspect would face 10 to 20 years in prison, if convicted.
Yim Po, executive director for the Cambodia Center for the Protection of Children’s Rights, said Tuesday that the prosecution of Kobata could help reduce sex tourism in Cambodia.
“Many foreigners come to Cambodia for pornography. We’d like to eliminate this kind of activitiy,” Yim Po said.