A 58-year-old fortuneteller in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo commune was arrested last week on suspicion of purchasing child sex, police said yesterday, adding 10 victims had already come forward to lodge a complaint against the man.
Keo Thea, police chief of Phnom Penh municipal anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection unit, said Lim Chanthorn was arrested at his home in Russei Keo district Thursday. “Now the suspect has been detained at the anti-human trafficking police station,” Mr Thea said.
Police accused Mr Chanthorn, a practicing fortuneteller and traditional healer, of luring children into his residence where he would pay them a few dollars for sexual acts, he said.
“We have received 10 complaints lodged by victims,” Mr Thea said, adding the victims were girls between 13 years and 15 years of age.
“We are investigating for more details on the case, we believe more than 10 victims… are involved,” he said.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court deputy prosecutor Plang Sophal said was preparing to lay charges against Mr Chanthorn. “We are preparing [court] documents and to make charges against him” today, he said.
Samleang Seila, country director of child protection NGO APLE, which had supplied police with information about the case, said Friday that the suspect lived close to Russei Keo Primary School, enabling him to lure pupils to his house.
Mr Seila said the court should hand down a severe sentence against Mr Chanthorn. “I request the court to punish the suspect very seriously because the case has serious effects on society,” he said, adding abused children could suffer psychological consequences later in life, such as having trouble learning and dropping out of school.
According to the Anti-Human Trafficking Law a suspect can be sentenced to seven to fifteen years in prison for purchasing sex with a child younger than 15.
Mr Seila said he could not say with certainty if purchasing child sex was on the rise, but added 37 child abuse suspects had been arrested in 2010 compared to 27 suspects during the same period last year.
Human rights group Adhoc recorded 195 child rapes in the first seven months of this year, a number that represents nearly two-thirds of all reported rapes in 2010.