Cambodia jails researcher for abuse

AFP-JIJI

A Cambodian court sentenced a Japanese man to a year in prison Wednesday for sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl in the tourist town of Siem Reap, officials said.

Shuji Yamagishi, 41, who described himself as a cultural researcher during the trial, was also given a one-year suspended term and ordered to pay the victim 5 million riel ($1,250) in redress.

He was arrested at his rented accommodation on May 16 and was initially accused of raping the girl, who lived in the same building, but the presiding judge at Siem Reap provincial court downgraded the charge.

“The court found there was not enough evidence to support the sexual intercourse charge so the charge was changed to indecent assault,” said prosecutor Uy Samphea, adding he will not appeal the ruling.

The girl’s lawyer, Hong Sambath, who works for child rights group Action Pour Les Enfants, described the sentence as “too lenient” and said, “Our biggest disappointment is that the court did not order him to be deported (after serving his sentence).”

Dozens of foreigners have been jailed for child sex crimes or deported to face trial in their home countries since Cambodia launched a campaign against pedophilia in 2003, in a bid to shake off its reputation as a haven for sexual predators.