Written by Chrann Chamroeun
Monday, 15 June 2009
THE PHNOM Penh Court of Appeal on Friday ordered a Frenchman convicted of committing indecent acts against an 8-year-old girl to serve the entirety of his 18-month sentence, overruling the Preah Sihanouk provincial court's decision to suspend it after eight months.
David Makhout, 46, was arrested in April 2008 at his rented house in Sihanoukville, where he had been living with an 8-year-old in an arrangement approved by the girl's mother.
Police seized pornographic films and condoms from the house, and the provincial court found him guilty of committing indecent acts against the girl, though a medical examination did not provide conclusive evidence of sexual abuse.
The court sentenced Makhout to 18 months in prison and ordered him to pay 10 million riels (US$2,409) in compensation.
Samleang Seila, country director of the anti-paedophile NGO Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE), which has been monitoring the case, said he had been "upset" when the sentence was suspended and had requested that the prosecutor general at the Court of Appeal try to overrule the provincial court's decision.
Makhout was transported from Preah Sihanouk provincial prison for Friday's hearing, which was closed to reporters.
Peng Maneth, a lawyer provided by APLE, said Makhout again denied having committed indecent acts against the girl and repeated his claim that the mother had granted him permission to help care for her daughter.
Samleang Seila said in an interview that Makhout had "strongly begged the mother for permission to care for her daughter at his rented house" and accused him of "trickery and cheating".
Peng Maneth said Makhout also blamed APLE for his conviction, calling the case an "injustice".
With time served before trial, Makhout has about four months left on his sentence.
He was not made available for comment.