A 35-year-old Frenchman was charged April 18 with the sexual abuse of an 8-year-old girl in Sihanoukville, police said.
Police arrested David Makhout on April 14 at his rented home in Mittapheap district’s commune IV where he allegedly abused the girl, said An Chhun, deputy chief of Sihanoukville’s anti-trafficking police bureau.
An Chhun said that Makhout tried to kill himself on April 15 by cutting his wrist with a fluorescent light tube.
“He cut his wrist, but he was fine,” he said, adding that doctors attended to the wound. “He is not mentally ill but may be remorseful,” he added.
Meas Sopheak, Sihanoukville municipal court’s chief prosecutor, said the victim had told authorities that Makhout forced her to perform sexual acts on him but did not have intercourse with him.
“According to the girl’s testimony, it was three to four times,” Meas Sopheak said by telephone.
The court charged the Frenchman on April 18 with committing an “indecent act” against a minor under a new law on human trafficking that was passed into effect in February. Makhout could face one to three years in prison and a $50 to $500 fine, if found guilty, Meas Sopheak said.
Samleang Seila, country director of the anti-pedophile NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, said that Makhout, who has lived in Cambodia since 2005, raised suspicion after he signed an agreement with the mother of his young victim, a beggar, agreeing to adopt her daughter for $500.
After signing the document, Makhout brought the girl to live with him at the house where the abuse allegedly took place, he said.
“He had the chance to live with her in a separated rented house,” Samleang Seila said, adding that the new Combating Human Trafficking and Sexual Trade law has reorganized and clarified charges of child sexual abuse and trafficking and has lessened penalties for certain acts.
Under the previous law, the accusations against Makhout warranted a debauchery charge, he said.
Under the 1996 law, debauchery, or sexual contact with person under 15, was punishable by 10 to 20 years in prison.
Makhout is being held in Sihanoukville municipal jail, Meas Sopheak said.