Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court sentenced a 43-year-old French national on Tuesday to serve only nine months of a one-year prison sentence for committing indecent acts against an 8-year-old boy. But with time served in pretrial detention, the convicted man is scheduled to be released today, the victim’s lawyer said.
Lawyer Peng Maneth, who represented the young abuse victim, said by telephone that the court also handed down five years of probation to Michel Blanchard, and demanded that the convicted Frenchman pay $50 compensation to his victim.
Presiding Judge Taing Sunlay didn’t answer repeated phone calls Tuesday, while Deputy Prosecutor Mak Pheang said that the light sentence was given because the victim testified that the abuse did not include sexual intercourse.
“The child testified that there was no sexual intercourse,” he said, adding that Mr Blanchard had only touched the victim with his hands. The deputy prosecutor then declined to comment further and hung up his phone.
Ms Peng Maneth said that Mr Blanchard, who was arrested in August, would be released today. She said it was hard to believe that the court ordered such a paltry amount of compensation for the victim.
“This is not acceptable, and the victim refused to take the compensation. How is this meant to cover the damage?” Ms Peng Maneth said. “We would rather not take it; it is better,” she added.
The Blanchard case has already been touched by additional tragedy: the murder of the young boy’s mother.
Police said in January that the 42-year-old mother of the young victim had been drowned in an apparent robbery. Police said that the woman, who lived in a poor neighborhood, was targeted after a representative of the Frenchman gave her $3,000 in an attempt to have her withdraw the lawsuit over the abuse of her son.
Mr Blanchard’s counsel, well-known attorney Dy Borima didn’t answer repeated telephone calls Tuesday.