Expats face prison in Cambodia for suggestive dance routine

Published:  29 Jan at 6 PM
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Ten Westerners are at present in police custody in Cambodia for sexy dancing at a pool party.

The party took place in Siem Reap, a popular visitor destination due to its location close by Angkor Wat, and was attended by around 100 expats and tourists. The event was in full swing when at least 30 Cambodian police suddenly arrived and began taking partygoers into custody. Some 70 people were arrested along with the ten organisers of the party, with the majority being sent to the country’s Commission of Education before being released.

Six of those detained are UK citizens, one is a New Zealander and two are Canadian, with police refusing to release the nationality of the 10th arrestee. All are accused of dancing in a pornographic manner and producing pornographic photos following the discovery of several images during a raid on a rented property. The photos show dancers assuming poses simulating sex positions, but claims are now being made the images were taken during another unconnected event.

So far, police have refused to confirm where or when the as yet authenticated photos were taken, nor why two of the allegedly ‘pornographic’ images have now been uploaded onto Cambodia’s national police website. According to Siem Reap’s provincial court prosecutor, the photos were also posted on social media, thus violating Cambodia’s anti-pornography and human trafficking laws.

Partygoers told journalists police simply piled in and began arresting everyone without any explanation as to why they were there. As a result, those taken into custody had no idea what law they’d broken or when or if they would be released. The five British nationals who are still detained told reporters they are innocent and still have no clue as to why they are still being detained. Different stories, they said, are coming from different people.

Mother of one 21-year old Brit Marci Harbour cried as she told the press she can’t even speak with her son as the police have confiscated his phone. She added many of the parents are now in touch with her, but all have been advised to say nothing, as it might make things worse for the detainees. The ten young adults are facing some six months in prison before their trial, and could then be sentenced to at least a year’s further detention.

Siem Reap’s position as the gateway to Angkor Wat draws literally millions of visitors annually, and there’s a large, well-established expat community within the town. Recently, police and temple authorities instituted a crackdown on respectful dress for visitors to the temple complex as well as the taking of photos intended for social media. One Buddhist authority confirmed visitors’ bodies should be covered from below the knee to the neck as a sign of respect for the sacred, ancient ruins.
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