Offer of money to victim disputed; police not investigating

Anti-human trafficking police in Siem Reap province said yesterday that they are not investigating an NGO’s claim that a Norwegian man charged with paying to have sex with a 16-year-old boy offered money to the victim’s family, resulting in a request by the family to drop the charges.

Roft Sletten, 64, was arrested Jan 20 in Siem Reap after police interviewed a boy leaving his house who allegedly told them that Mr Sletten paid him $40 for sex.

During Mr Sletten’s trial this week, the victim said he and the suspect did not have sex, the boy and his mother asked to withdraw their claim against Mr Sletten, and three witnesses, who had initially corroborated the sex claims, said they knew nothing about the charge against the Norwegian.

Samleang Seila, country director of anti-pedophile NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, alleged Wednesday that offers of money influenced the victim and witnesses. The claim was backed up yesterday by the boy’s attorney, but denied by his mother and Mr Sletten’s lawyer.

Siem Reap anti-human trafficking police chief Sun Bunthorng said his department is not investigating APLE’s claim because the matter is an issue for the court, which would need to request police intervention for an investigation to begin.

Peng Maneth, the teen’s attorney, said the boy and his mother met with the suspect before and after Wednesday’s hearing and claimed the family was previously promised between $2,000 and $3,000 if their claim was withdrawn before the trial began.

The victim’s mother says no meetings took place and no money was offered. She said she asked for the charges against Mr Sletten to be withdrawn because she believed her son when he said Tuesday that he never had sex with the man.

Mr Seila said yesterday that he was told by the boy’s mother that the defense attorney or members of his office began contacting the victim’s family two to three months ago, adding that the contact, while not criminal, is unethical and occurs frequently in sex cases.

Phoum Bunphann, the suspect’s attorney, denied the allegation.

“I never [contacted the family], and my client did not commit this crime,” he said.

Deputy prosecutor Sok Keobandith declined to comment on whether police would be asked to investigate the matter.


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