Cambodia jails French paedophile, 71

A Cambodian court jailed a 71-year-old French paedophile for seven years on Tuesday after he was found guilty of paying young boys as little as $10 for sex.

Jacques Philippe Albertini, who has been held in custody since his arrest last year, was convicted of buying sex from 12-year-old boys in three separate cases between 2009 and last year, judge Seng Neang said at Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

The court also ordered the Frenchman, who denied the charges, to pay $1,250 to each of the three boys in compensation.

Child rights groups hailed the verdict and accused Albertini of being a serial offender who had previously evaded justice in France, Thailand and Cambodia.

Albertini was questioned three times in France in 1996, 2000 and 2004 regarding sexual acts with minors but was never charged, according to Cambodia-based Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE).

He was also twice arrested in Thailand, in 1998 and 2000, but the victims dropped the complaints. He was also twice arrested in Cambodia -- in 2004 and 2008 -- for allegedly abusing boys, but the cases were also dismissed due to a lack of evidence or after the victims dropped their complaints.

"The trail of nightmares Jacques Philippe Albertini has caused has ended today," Khoem Vando, of APLE, said in a statement.

"This is a great day for children in Cambodia and elsewhere and for justice in general," he said, adding the verdict sent "a strong signal in favour of vulnerable and abused children".

Cambodia launched an anti-paedophilia drive in 2003 in an effort to end its reputation as a haven for child sex offenders.

Dozens of foreigners have since been jailed for child sex crimes or deported to face trial in their home countries.