A Danish guesthouse owner imprisoned in 2010 for forcing his male staff members to have sex with customers has been freed by a royal pardon after serving six years of an eight-year sentence, according to the anti-pedophile group that conducted the initial investigation into the case.
Svend Erick Jonasson, who ran the Seven In Guest House in Siem Reap City, received the pardon in a royal decree issued on January 3. It did not reveal why he had been granted clemency. The pardon was included in the government’s latest Royal Gazette.
Mr. Jonasson admitted to having sex with the three male staff members aged 15, 18 and 21, but denied he made them have sex with guests on numerous occasions from 2009 to his arrest, said Oum Amara, a deputy provincial police chief, after the arrest.
“[The victims] had sex with Mr. Jonasson’s customers, each time charging $15 to $20, but the suspect took $5 of that fee,” Mr. Amara said at the time.
The Danish national, who was aged 64 at the time of his arrest, was convicted by the Siem Reap Provincial Court in June 2011 of procuring prostitution involving children and sent to the provincial prison for eight years.
Samleng Seila, president of the child protection NGO Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE), said on Thursday that the Appeal Court had slashed Mr. Jonasson’s sentence twice before the pardon was issued.
“We’re disappointed with his sentence reduction and the court’s decision not to order his deportation at the end of his sentence,” Mr. Seila said via email.
The NGO spent more than a year from 2008 investigating activities at Mr. Jonasson’s guesthouse in Toek Vil commune after they received several tips from customers who stayed there.
“It took a long time because we couldn’t get the witnesses inside to give us [information],” Mr. Seila said.
Once APLE identified three of the reported five victims, the NGO passed the information to provincial police, who opened an official investigation, he added.
Neither the Justice Ministry nor the director of Siem Reap prison could be reached for comment on Thursday about Mr. Jonasson’s release.
“Now it worries us as we do not know his whereabouts and if there is any measure to prevent him from reoffending,” Mr. Seila said.
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