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Monday, November 05, 2007

German charged with child sex in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - A 61-year-old German man was charged on Monday with sexual abuse of four Cambodian children, the latest Westerner to be charged with similar crimes as Southeast Asia cracks down on paedophile tourists.

Jopen Reimund Hubert of Cologne was arrested in a raid on his Phnom Penh hotel room. He was found with a 14-year-old girl, said Colonel Keo Thea, chief of Phnom Penh's anti-trafficking unit.
Police also said they confiscated scores of pornographic pictures stored in his computer, including a picture of one of the four girls.

Prosecutor Sok Kalyan said he had charged Hubert with sexual abuse of the girls, which could land him in jail for up to 20 years.

Hubert, who denied the charges, was remanded in custody and could spend up to six months behind bars while police complete their investigation.

"I did nothing bad," he told Reuters when he appeared in court for a remand hearing.

"The girl in my room, I saved her from committing suicide. She has problem with her parents," he said. "I spent my own money to support those girls to go to school, buy food, and clothes. This all a mistake."

Activists of the Action Pour Les Enfants anti-paedophile group said they had followed Hubert for the last two years and tipped police off about him after he was seen with four girls in the beach town of Sihanoukville.

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SKorea catches out 24,000 in prostitution crackdown

SEOUL (AFP) - South Korean authorities caught nearly 24,000 prostitutes, pimps or clients in a two-month crackdown on the sex trade, the National Police Agency said Monday.

Most the 23,626 caught -- of which about 19,900 were clients -- were fined, an officer at the anti-prostitution bureau told AFP, while 32 people accused of more serious offences were formally arrested and detained pending trial, the agency said.

Clients faced a maximum fine of three million won (3,315 dollars) and brothel owners up to 10 years in jail or 100 million won in fines.

It was our third special crackdown on prostitution this year. The next one will begin in late December," the officer said of the latest operation, which began in August.

It was one of a series of police crackdowns since a new anti-prostitution law with tougher penalties was passed in 2004. Last year alone 35,000 clients were prosecuted.

The anti-prostitution drive has resulted in a sharp increase in incidents of South Koreans involved in the foreign sex trade. The government plans to revise the law to punish citizens caught buying sex abroad.

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Tay Ninh to increase trade with Cambodia

HCM CITY — The authorities of Tay Ninh Province plan to take advantage of the province’s excellent roads and proximity to major highways to build up trade and tourism with Cambodia, provincial officials have said.

Nguyen Van Nen, chairman of Tay Ninh People’s Committee, cited the Trans-Asia Highway, which runs through the province and links HCM City and Phnom Penh and is considered a gateway to member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The HCM Highway and the HCM City-Moc Bai expressway also run through the province and the road network is accessible to cars throughout the province.

Nen said local authorities would make greater efforts to fully tap these advantages to further develop two major border economic zones.

To attract domestic and foreign investors to the economic zones, provincial authorities have pledged to offer preferential taxes and land rentals and meet regularly with investors to settle difficulties.

The local authorities will focus on development of the two zones as a way to expand trade and tourism between southern Vietnamese provinces and ASEAN countries via the Moc Bai bordergate.

Provincial authorities said trade, industrial production, and the processing and tourism industries would be at the top of the investment agenda until 2020.

On the borderline

The Moc Bai border economic zone in the two districts of Trang Bang and Ben Cau covers 21,283ha and houses a 1,356-ha urban, trade and industrial ucentre.

Trade in the zone bordering Cambodia, established in 1999, has flourished as a result of the Government’s special tax exemption policy.

The zone has set up a duty-free office to sell goods for customers going through the Moc Bai border gate.

According to the province’s tourism department, the number of tourists travelling through the border gate has increased sharply in the last few years, opening up new investment opportunities. —VNS

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Cambodia focus next weekend at EWC

Advertiser Staff

The University of Hawai'i and the East-West Center will present three days of discussion, lectures and exhibits about Cambodia on Friday, Saturday and Nov. 11 that are free and open to the public.

A Cambodia roundtable symposium will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. Friday at the East-West Center's Burns Hall, Room 4005, and will focus on projects related to Cambodia, especially in conservation and cultural revival, by UH faculty, East-West Center fellows and others.

From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, a conference in the UH Korean Studies Center auditorium will focus on past, present and future initiatives in Southeast Asia and Cambodia by UH and Cambodian experts.

From 2 to 4 p.m. next Sunday, the East-West Center Gallery will feature an exhibit by National Geographic photographer Paul Chesley titled "Living Angkor," along with lectures on conservation efforts in Cambodia, with an emphasis on the living culture.
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Thais revive talks with Cambodia

Cambodia is exploring gas in the Cambodian sea water, but Thailand needs free gas in sharing 50% from Cambodia. Thailand had been stealing lots of on land natural resources from Cambodia and now they are planning to steal under ground property from Cambodia too.

Talks between Thailand and Cambodia on the joint development of petroleum resources are likely to resume early next year after a decade-long delay, according to Krairit Nilkuha, the director-general of the Mineral Fuels Department.

The two governments have long been at odds over exploration and development in overlapping offshore territories. A deal appeared imminent in 1997 but plans were scrapped because of the Asian economic crisis.

Mr Krairit said the timing was right to promote petroleum exploration and production in the area, given the soaring costs of imported oil and volatility in world prices.

At issue are nine exploration areas, designated as Blocks 5 to 13, in the overlapping claims area. Thai officials believe they could contain abundant gas and oil reserves since some blocks are located close to highly productive fields operated by Chevron and PTT Exploration and Production Plc.

Any agreement between Thailand and Cambodia is likely to be modelled on the Thailand-Malaysia Joint Development Area (JDA), in which each country holds 50%. Thailand is represented by PTT Plc and the Malaysian partner is the state energy company Petronas.
Amerada Hess and Petronas Carigali, the joint operators of the JDA, recently informed the Mineral Fuels Department that field A18 would be ready to start pumping natural gas in February, at a rate of 390 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd).

PTTEP has also confirmed additional supplies of 330 mmcfd from its Arthit field in the Gulf of Thailand off Songkhla, which would be available starting in February.

Mr Krairit said the new output would ensure natural gas supply to serve the high demand of the industrial and electricity sectors at a time when other sources remain uncertain.

The country wants to import more liquefied natural gas (LNG) to feed power plants by 2011 but has been unable to secure deals with potential suppliers from the Middle East.

Meanwhile, the government has attracted bids for exploration licences in 28 of the 65 blocks that have been on offer since earlier this year. Of the 28 blocks, 20 are onshore and the rest offshore.

Authorities expect around three billion baht in capital investment to be made in exploration between 2008 and 2010.

Mr Krairit said new bids could also be called for at least 40 petroleum fields that previously had been deemed not commercially viable. Improved exploration technology, combined with the prospect of high oil prices, are seen as making previously marginal fields more attractive to investors.

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