A convicted paedophile, Johan Brahim Escori, has boasted of paying a US$11,000 bribe for an acquittal at an Appeal Court hearing in Phnom Penh tomorrow, a Swedish newspaper said Wednesday.
The report came just two weeks after child rights group Action Pour Les Enfants filed complaints with the Interior and Justice ministries calling for an investigation of a 65-year-old Dutch man charged with sex crimes in April who allegedly bragged in his diary about bribing court officials in Preah Sihanouk province.
The Svenska Dagbladet newspaper report chronicled the case of a 63-year-old Swede who was arrested in May of last year and convicted of sex crimes in January, receiving a six-and-a-half year prison sentence. Though the man is not named in the article, the circumstantial information included matches the case of Johan Brahim Escori, 63, who was convicted in January on two counts of committing indecent acts and having sex with children.
“A common, simple bribe of $11,000 means that I will soon be a free man,” the unnamed Swede told Svenska Dagbladet. He also described how he had coached one of his alleged victims – his 9-year-old adopted son – to offer supportive testimony at trial.
“I am training him so that he says the right things and does not contradict himself,” the man reportedly said.
Martin Schibbye, the writer of the article, said in an email that the conversation had been recorded.
APLE director Samleang Seila said that the individual in the article was “obviously” Escori, and that he was not surprised by the revelations.
“It is ongoing bribery and corruption at the court,” Samleang Seila said. “This is very common in foreign paedophile cases.”
Appeal Court President You Bunleng said: “If court officials really take bribes in return for freeing prisoners, this is illegal and must be investigated, but I deny that this problem is happening in my institution because I always talk clearly about the bribery issue in every meeting.”
Samleang Seila said APLE was preparing to file a complaint with the government urging investigation of possible bribery in Escori’s case.
The APLE complaint filed two weeks ago concerned the case of a 65-year-old Dutch man who was arrested in Preah Sihanouk province in April and charged with committing indecent acts, purchasing child prostitution and possessing child pornography.
This man is being held in pretrial detention.
Samleang Seila said his group had obtained a diary written in Dutch that discussed thousands of dollars in bribes paid to court officials in Preah Sihanouk province. Handwriting analysis, Samleang Seila said, confirmed the author’s identity.
Kim Eng, deputy director of Preah Sihanouk provincial court, called the alleged bribery “impossible”.
Bith Kimhong, director of the anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection department at the Ministry of the Interior, said he had yet to see the complaint.