Foreigners deny ‘porn’ charges

Khy Sovuthy / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
The foreign suspects were attending a pool party called ‘Let’s Get Wet’. Supplied

A lawyer for ten foreigners charged with producing pornography has said his clients were not criminals but simply failed to understand Cambodian culture.

The ten were arrested in Siem Reap last week for organising what officials described as “porn dancing” at a venue in the tourist town, which another 77 foreigners took part in.

Lawyer Soung Sophea said yesterday that his clients were innocent of the charges laid against them by the court, arguing the criminal case against them was unreasonable.

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He said they admitted wearing “sexy” clothes and singing and dancing as well as drinking during a pool party called “Let’s Get Wet”, but denied accusations they made pornography.

“The charges are very serious for them,” said Mr Sophea. “What they did should lead to deportation at the most, not prison.”

He said the young foreigners did not actually engage in sexual activity or show their genitals.

“They should not be charged with producing pornography for what they did. Their actions were only wrong from the perspective of Khmer ethics,” Mr Sophea said.

The lawyer added that he would meet his clients at the provincial prison this afternoon to discuss an application for bail.

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Yin Srang, spokesman for Siem Reap Provincial Court, said ten foreigners were charged with producing pornography on Sunday and detained in the provincial prison.

They have been charged for production of pornography under Article 39 of the Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation, which carries a maximum prison sentence of one year and a fine from about $50 to $500.

Mr Srang declined to comment further.

Samrith Sokhon, a prosecutor at the court, said the group produced “pornographic images” and circulated them online to attract tourists to the event.

He said their activities were against “our tradition” and noted Siem Reap’s proximity to Angkor Wat, which in addition to being the country’s most popular tourist site is also considered sacred.

The ten foreigners include five Britons: Billy Stevens, 21, Thomas Alexander Jeffries, 22, Daniel Richard Leeming Jones, 30, Paul Francis Harris, 32, and Vincent Harley Robert Hook, 35, alongside two Canadian women, Eden Koazoleas, 19, and Jessica Drolet, 26.

The remaining three were identified as Job Robertus van der Wel, from the Netherlands, 22, David Nikolaus Aleksandr Ballovarre, 22, of Norway, and Paul Martin Brasch, 32, of New Zealand.

Police raided the villa where the party was taking place on Thursday and arrested 87 foreigners.

Siem Reap anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection police cooperated with provincial immigration police for the crackdown in Siem Reap city’s Svay Dangkum commune.

Pictures of the party showed dressed couples simulating sex in a crowded room.

A police report claimed the villa, in which pub crawlers stopped by, was rented by foreigners for parties, where one had to pay up to $15 to get in.

A total of 77 tourists were warned and let go, while the remaining 10 were charged.

Sok Sam, deputy provincial police chief in charge of human-trafficking and juvenile protection, said it was the second time they had arrested foreigners for the offence.

Chhe Virak, the provincial court judge in charge of the case, could not be reached for comment.

Britain’s foreign office said it was aware of the case and is providing support to the families. With AFP

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