A British software engineer on Thursday was sentenced to seven years in jail for allegedly purchasing sex from two underage girls in Phnom Penh.
Matthew Harland, 38, was arrested in the capital in May last year and charged with for buying sex from an 11-year-old and a 12-year-old in 2006.
Defense argued that the evidence against him was not enough for a conviction, but Noun Phanith, a lawyer for the two girls, said the sentence was just.
However, he said that the prospect of Harland’s release in Cambodia after his sentence was a worry.
“I am not happy for the court not to expel him from Cambodia [after his sentence] because it increases the number of sex offenders and affects the feeling of the victims,” he said. “And we worry about revenge by the accused and his committing more offenses when he is freed.”
Harland was also ordered to pay $250 to each victims’ family in compensation.
Between 2003 and 2010, Cambodia found 106 foreigners guilty of sex offenses, according the NGO Action Pour Les Enfants. In 2010 alone, 18 were found guilty.
Sam Neang Seila, executive director for the group, said the number of cases tried did not lessen the concern for sex tourism.
“We must increase the strong investigation and law enforcement to bring the offenders to justice,” he said.