Monday, November 05, 2007

Cambodian court charges German man with child sex abuse

The Associated Press
Published: November 5, 2007

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: A 61-year-old German man was charged Monday with sexually abusing a 14-year-old Cambodian girl, the latest Westerner to be arrested in a growing crackdown on suspected pedophiles in Southeast Asia.

The man, identified as Jopen Reimund Hubert, was charged with debauchery, said Sok Kalyan, a prosecutor at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. Debauchery is a Cambodian legal term for sexual abuse of children under the age of 16 and is punishable by up to 20 years in jail.

Hubert, of Cologne, Germany, was arrested last Thursday after police raided his Phnom Penh hotel room and found him in bed with the girl, police said.

He will be detained up to six months before his trial begins, the prosecutor said.

In a court appearance Sunday, Hubert covered his face as he was escorted inside, his wrists handcuffed. Reporters were not allowed to ask him questions.

A French child rights group, Action Pour Les Enfants, said it had kept the suspect under surveillance for some time. Investigators for the group saw the man spending time with two teenage girls, including the one who was with him at the time of his arrest, said Samleang Seila, the group's director in Cambodia.

The group said Hubert had given the girls expensive gifts and money in return for sexual relations.

German Embassy officials were not immediately available for comment.

The detention of the German is the latest in a string of arrests of Westerners for alleged child sex offenses in Cambodia.

In March, a court sentenced two German men to 12 and 28 years in prison for sexually abusing two girls, aged 10 and 14.

In April, Walter Muze of Germany was charged with sexually abusing a 13-year-old Cambodian girl. Last month, a Russian businessman was charged with debauchery for allegedly having sex with six girls. Both are in detention awaiting trial.

Thailand has also made several recent arrests of suspected pedophiles.



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