Friday 20 July 2018

Ten tourists facing charges in Cambodia over 'lewd images' from pub crawl

In this photo dated Jan. 27, 2018, issued by Cambodian National Police, a group of foreigners stand after they were arrested for
In this photo dated Jan. 27, 2018, issued by Cambodian National Police, a group of foreigners stand after they were arrested for "dancing pornographically" at a party in Siem Reap town (Cambodian National Police via AP)

Talia Shadwell

Police in Cambodia have charged a group of 10 tourists, including five Britons, with producing pornographic pictures after images emerged of people apparently demonstrating different sex positions.

The group were arrested on Thursday when officers raided a rented villa in the tourist hotspot of Siem Reap, and could face a year in jail if convicted.

A Cambodian expatriate website published images released by police of the clothed tourists appearing to pretend to perform different sexual positions on the floor of the villa during a party.

The villa was a stop on a pub crawl, Cambodian police said.

Among the eight men and two women arrested were Britons Vincent Harley Robert Hook (35), Daniel Richard Leeming Jones (30), Thomas Alexander Jeffries (22), Billy Stevens (21) and Paul Francis Harris (32).

Also detained were Dutchman Job Robertus van der Wel (22), Canadians Jessica Drolet (25) and Eden Koazoleas (19), along with Norwegian David Nikolaus Aleksandr Ballovarre (22) and 32-year-old New Zealander Paul Martin Brasch.

All 10 were charged on Sunday with producing pornographic pictures.

Samrith Sokhon, the prosecutor of the Siem Reap provincial court, told the Associated Press the group could face up to a year in prison if convicted.

"Any people producing pornography is contrary to Cambodia's traditions," he said.

A member of the group told the Press Association from their cell on Saturday night that none of those arrested were actually in the photographs.

"Honestly, it was really confusing. Everyone was confused. They raided, rounded us up, there was about 80 to 100 people at this party, some of them were tourists. There were about 30 of them (police officers)," he said.

The prisoner said the group believed the investigation was targeting tourists and expats in the south-east Asian country for wearing bikinis in public, and in relation to expat-run pub crawls in Siem Reap.

The mother of one of the 10 prisoners said they were told to sign court documents in the Khmer language without the help of a translator.

She said she had lost contact with her son by Sunday afternoon and was trying to liaise with the parents of others in the group for further news.

She told the Press Association: "They are scared out of their brains. They just did what they were told in the hope they (Khmer authorities) would say 'oh, well we'll get you all to sign these papers and nothing will happen'.

"They've signed these papers not knowing what they are."

She said her son told of an arrested woman being pressured by Khmer authorities to confess she was pictured in a photo, which he described as depicting a young woman bending over and exposing her breast, but she repeatedly denied the photo was of her.

"I'm getting to the stage where I'm just laughing about it... I'm just so damn tired. I haven't slept since this all started. I'm worried about their state of mind," said the mother.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in a statement: "We are assisting five British men arrested in Cambodia and are providing support to their families."

Press Association

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