Norwegian arrested in Cambodia on underage sex charges

Friday, January 22, 2010

PHNOM PENH - A 64-year-old Norwegian man was arrested in the Cambodian tourist town of Siem Reap on suspicion of sexually abusing four boys, aged 11 to 14, media reported Friday.

The man was arrested Wednesday after a boy leaving the man’s guest house told police he was paid $40 for sex, Sun Bunthorng, the provincial head of the anti-trafficking department, told the Cambodia Daily newspaper.

Sun said the case would likely go to court Friday in the tourist town, outside of which lies the famous Angkor Wat temple complex.

“It was the first case of this year in Siem Reap,” he said, adding that provincial police dealt with three similar cases involving foreign nationals last year.

Samleang Seila - who heads a local non-governmental organization called APLE which combats paedophilia - said APLE began monitoring the Norwegian a year ago after he was seen in contact with several homeless children in Siem Reap.

Cambodia has struggled to rid itself of its reputation as a place where foreign tourists can engage in sex with children.

Samleang Seila said 26 foreigners were arrested on underage sex charges in Cambodia last year, twice the number of 2008. Three of the 26 were subsequently released.

He said the rise in arrests was in part because of improved policing and more foreign paedophiles visiting Cambodia.

This week, a court in the capital, Phnom Penh, sentenced Swedish citizen Johan Brahim Escori, 62, to six and a half years in jail for abusing boys as young as 9.

The judge ruled that Escori, who reportedly has a history of similar sex crimes in his native country, would be deported once he has served his sentence.

Another foreign national, US citizen Harvey Alexander Johnson, 57, is to appear in a Phnom Penh court next month on accusations of committing indecent acts with a 12-year-old girl.

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