Foreigners arrested in Cambodia deny 'pornographic dancing'

2018-01-30 20:16
This photo taken on January 27, shows a group of foreigners outside a courtroom in Siem Reap province, some who were reportedly arrested on January 25, for allegedly "singing and dancing pornographically". (Chan Raksmey, AFP)

This photo taken on January 27, shows a group of foreigners outside a courtroom in Siem Reap province, some who were reportedly arrested on January 25, for allegedly "singing and dancing pornographically". (Chan Raksmey, AFP)

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Phnom Penh – Ten foreigners arrested for "singing and dancing pornographically" in Cambodia last week have denied the charges against them, their lawyer said on Tuesday.

The group – five Britons, two Canadians, a Norwegian, a New Zealander and a Dutch national – were arrested on Thursday during a party at a private villa in Siem Reap, the gateway to the famed ruins of Angkor Wat.

The defendants, aged between 19 and 31, were charged by a Siem Reap court with producing pornographic pictures and materials, which carries a maximum one-year sentence.

But their appointed lawyer Soung Sophea told AFP his clients rejected the allegations.

Soung Sophea said they admitted wearing "sexy" clothes and singing and dancing as well as drinking during a pool party called "Let's Get Wet".

But their activities "did not fall under the charges", he said.

"They did not produce pornographic images or show their genitals."

Against tradition

Cambodia's national police said on its website over the weekend that the 10 foreigners were accused of "singing and dancing pornographically".

Police also released photos that show pairs simulating various sexual positions at a party, but the origin of the images is unclear and many in them do not appear in the line-up also posted by authorities.

Seventy-seven partygoers were rounded up during the crackdown but were released with a warning.

Samrith Sokhon, a prosecutor at the court in Siem Reap, said the group produced "pornographic images" and circulated them online to attract tourists to the event.

He said their activities were against "our tradition" and noted Siem Reap's proximity to Angkor Wat, which in addition to being Cambodia's most popular tourist site is also considered sacred.

Cambodia banned skimpy clothing at Angkor Wat in 2016 and has previously arrested foreigners for taking racy photos at the ancient temples.

But deportation not prison time is the norm.

The location of past offences are also at the ruins not in the adjoining town of Siem Reap, a popular tourist stop known for partying and late-night carousing on its "pub street".

Britain's foreign office has said it is aware of the case, while Dutch travel organisations on Monday called on tourists to "respect religions and temples" when travelling in foreign countries, popular daily tabloid De Telegraaf said.

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