Police Free Accused Japanese Pornographer

The Japanese tourist arrested last month for allegedly taking pornographic photos of underage girls was quietly freed from a Phnom Penh jail last week and returned to Japan, according to police officials and the Japanese Embassy.

Kazuyuki Kobata, 30, charged with debauchery relating to child trafficking and exploitation, was released July 3 from the Prey Sar Prison, prison director Kuy Bun­sorn said Wednesday. The re­lease was ordered by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, he said.

“The court has not dropped the charges against him,” Kuy Bun­sorn said. But, according to the release order, the suspect could stay outside of the prison with guarantees by his lawyer that he would not leave the country while the court continues its investigation, and that he would come back to court if asked, Kuy Bun­sorn said.

However, several officials of the Japanese Embassy said Wed­nesday night that Kobata was freed without being formally charg­ed and left for Japan as a free man soon after his release.

“We have requested to the court to treat the case fairly, in accordance with the Cambodian laws,” said Counsel Eiji Yama­moto. “I’m not sure about details of the legal procedures and laws here….I was informed that the investigating judge released him before formal charges were pressed.”

Arrested on June 14, Kobata was preliminarily charged with debauchery six days later by municipal prosecutor Uk Savuth. Formally charged and convicted, he would have faced up to 20 years in prison.

The case was forwarded to Chief Judge Sor Sophakry for investigation and Kobata was detained until his release. It is unclear is Sor Sophakry ever formally charged Kobata.

Sor Sophakry is out of the coun­try and could not be reached on comment.

A court clerk said Wednesday on a condition of anonymity that the charges against Kabota were dropped because the investigating judge found no evidence to prosecute him.

Women’s human rights workers suspect there must be corrupt officials involved in freeing the suspect.

“[The court and police] said they have found lots of evidence,” said Oung Chanthol, executive director for the Cambodian Wo­men’s Crisis Center. “Why does this happen?”



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