File photo

Phnom Penh -

A Cambodian court on Thursday sentenced a 71-year-old British man to one year in prison for molesting boys - a sentence criticised by child rights campaigners as too lenient.

Reginald Blakeley, who taught English at a local school before his arrest in January in the city of Siem Reap, was convicted of committing indecent acts against five boys aged between 7 and 14.

“He was sentenced to two years in prison, but the court ordered him to serve only one year,” Judge Hok Pov told AFP after the trial in Siem Reap.

The remaining sentence was suspended. Blakeley was also ordered to pay a fine of about $500 as well as $150 to each of three victims. The two other boys did not request compensation.

Samleang Seila, country director for child rights group Action Pour Les Enfants, said the sentence was “too lenient”.

“It will only encourage more abuses against Cambodian children,” he said.

Blakeley was arrested by British police in 2010 when he returned from Cambodia but was released due to lack of evidence, he said.

Dozens of foreigners have been jailed or deported to face trial in their home countries since Cambodia launched an anti-paedophilia push in 2003 in a bid to shake off its reputation as a haven for sexual predators. - Sapa-AFP