NGOs Disappointed Over Pedophile’s Sentence

A US national who pleaded guilty in December to having sex with a 13-year-old Cambodian girl was sentenced Wednesday in California to five years and four months in prison, US media reported.

An official with anti-pedophile NGO Action Pour Les Enfants said her organization was “very disappointed” with the sentence, which under the US Protect Act could have been up to 30 years.

Michael John Koklich, 49, was also ordered to pay $10,000 compensation and will be supervised for five years after his release from prison, the San Francisco Chro­nicle newspaper reported.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court in February 2006 charged Kok­lich with debauchery for allegedly having sex with two girls, aged 11 and 13.

According to court documents, Koklich also told investigators that he had had sex with 40 to 50 underage girls in Cambodia over the course of three years, the Chro­nicle reported.

“It’s a very disheartening case,” said APLE project officer Zelda Hunter, adding that the court should have handed down a heftier sentence as Koklich had repeatedly abused girls over several years.

Keo Thea, deputy chief of the mu­nicipal anti-human trafficking department, said that he was surprised by Koklich’s “small conviction.”

Under Cambodian law, the minimum jail term for debauchery is 10 years.

“It is unfair,” Keo Thea said, ad­ding that he was concerned the rel­atively light conviction might set a precedent for other sex offenders.

        (Additional reporting by Chhay Channyda)


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