A Dutchman arrested this week in Siem Reap province in possession of nearly 1,300 photographs of naked boys was charged with child pornography on Thursday—and identified as a former member of the Catholic clergy in his country, a court official and sources in the Netherlands said.
Evrard-Nicolas Sarot, 53, is alleged to have paid about 20 boys, all of whom were under the age of 15, a few dollars each to pose for nude photos, police said.
On Thursday, he was charged by the Siem Reap Provincial Court under the anti-human trafficking law after his arrest on Tuesday outside a Siem Reap City hotel, said Ream Chanmony, a spokesman for the provincial court.
Mr. Sarot is being provisionally detained at the provincial prison, Mr. Chanmony said.
Police found a laptop computer inside Mr. Sarot’s hotel room on Wednesday that held more photos of naked Cambodian boys, different from the images found on Tuesday on his Nikon camera, said Chhay Haklong, deputy chief of the provincial police’s anti-human trafficking unit.
The images on the laptop were not of the 19 victims interviewed by police earlier this week, Mr. Haklong said. He added that police would try to identify the other children if the court ordered a further investigation.
Mr. Sarot has told police the images were solely for personal use, Mr. Haklong said.
A conviction for producing child pornography carries a sentence of five to 10 years in prison, with the sentence doubled for selling or distributing the materials.
Mr. Haklong said Mr. Sarot had been staying at the home of a Cambodian family, to whom he had been giving money. He even left his passport, suitcase, clothes and medicine there, according to Mr. Haklong.
“Every time he comes to Cambodia, he used to sleep there,” Mr. Haklong said, adding that police did not plan to interview the family.
The suspect told police he worked at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, the Netherlands’ main international airport, Mr. Haklong said.
The website of the Old Catholic Church in Culemborg, Netherlands, lists Mr. Sarot as having been a priest there from 2004 to 2013.
Reached on Thursday, Jaap van Oort, a parish sexton, said he didn’t have permission to speak to the media, but acknowledged that Mr. Sarot had been a clergyman.
“Mr. Sarot was a priest a few years ago, but he’s not anymore,” he said, before referring questions to church officials who could not be reached.
Liz van Velzen, a spokeswoman for Dutch anti-child exploitation NGO Terre des Hommes, which is investigating Mr. Sarot’s background, said she was “pretty sure he was a priest,” but that she did not know whether he had been convicted of offenses against children in the past.
(Additional reporting by Chhorn Phearun)
© 2017, The Cambodia Daily. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced in print, electronically, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without written permission.