Court on Wednesday reduced the sentence of a
Belgian man convicted of indecent acts with a minor by 15 years Tuesday, based
on the enactment of a new anti-trafficking law.
Phillip Dassat, 46, was arrested in April 2006 and convicted
of indecent acts with a 14-year-old boy at a guesthouse in Phnom Penh. The Phnom Penh Municipal Court
sentenced Dassat to 18 years in prison under a previous statute.
Appeals Court Judge Um Sarith upheld the guilty verdict of
the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, but he said Article 43 of the "Law on
Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation" called for a
sentence of only three years.
Dassat was also fined 6 million riel, or $15,000. The
three-year sentence and fine are the maximum allowed under the new law.
Nou Chantha, lawyer for the accused, said Tuesday he was
"satisfied" with the reduction of the sentence.
Samleang Seila, country director for the anti-trafficking
group Action Pour Les Enfants, said the new law did not signal a strong intention
to stop acts of pedophilia.
Imprisonments for sexual acts are "short," he
said, calling for further amendments to the law.
The new law, which was enacted in trafficking, calls for
five to 10 years in prison for sexual acts with minors and up to 3 years for
Under the old law, indecent acts could lead to a prison
sentence of up to 20 years, Samleang Seila said.
The number of pedophile cases against underage boys was
lower in 2008 compared to 2006 and 2007, Keo Thia, deputy chief of the
anti-trafficking and juvenile protection unit of the Phnom Penh police, said Tuesday.
"The criminals seem to be afraid of our police, who
have cracked down on many pedophile cases," he said.
Police have made three arrests of suspected foreign
pedophiles since January, he added.