Mother of Kiwi detained in Cambodia desperate to get him home

The mother of a Kiwi detained in Cambodia for allegedly posting pornographic images has said her son is inconsolable and she is desperate to have him back.

New Zealander Paul Brasch, 32, is among a group of foreign tourists arrested in Cambodia last Thursday when police raided a party at a rented villa in the northwestern town of Siem Reap and found people "dancing pornographically" at an event organisers called a pub crawl.

The group includes men and women from the United Kingdom, Canada, Norway, the Netherlands and New Zealand.

The 10 suspects are being charged with producing "pornographic pictures and materials" and face up to a year in prison if convicted. If they go to trial, it would likely happen in the next few months.

The tourists arrested on indecency charges in Cambodia wait at the courthouse. Photo / Cambodia Expats Online
The tourists arrested on indecency charges in Cambodia wait at the courthouse. Photo / Cambodia Expats Online

Brasch's mother, Vicky Malden, told John Campbell on RNZ's Checkpoint that Paul was pretty inconsolable.

"I mean, he can be a bit of a rebel, I suppose, but he's just a guy. He loved Cambodia," she said.

"He loved the culture, he loved the people. In fact, I was pretty sure I'd lost my son to Cambodia because he loved it so much. He's just devastated, he can't believe what's happening."

Brasch, who was born in Auckland but educated in Taupo and was understood to have lived in Hamilton, has been living in Cambodia for about a year.

Malden told Campbell the event was in a private residence and 80-100 tickets had been sold for it.

The morality police arrested about 70 of them and then 10 were just picked out of the bunch.

"At that time my son was cooking sausages and steak on the barbecue so it's kind of weird, the whole situation. We are trying to just make sense of it.

Kiwi Paul Brasch pictured during his travels in 2016. Photo / Facebook
Kiwi Paul Brasch pictured during his travels in 2016. Photo / Facebook

"They originally were detained for three days at the Cambodian police station. They pretty much slept on the floor. The police were very good to them, they gave them pizza, they treated them well. They can't say they were treated badly."

They were desperate to have the group back.

"A few of them are just children. They are just kids, having fun."

Paul's sister Bianca Brasch also spoke with Sky News and said photos released by Cambodia Police were not taken at the party.

"The pictures that have been printed [were] not even in relation to the party. None of the people who are in the line-up, including my brother, are in those pictures.

"We've got extremely worried family members - my mother being one of them - all across the world. We don't feel they are getting the help they need."

A lawyer for one of the 10 Westerners arrested said the group may have offended local standards of morality, but should be expelled from the country rather than jailed.

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Lawyer Sourng Sophea said some of the photos posted by his clients showed them at a party, some drinking by a swimming pool and some of the women in bikinis, but none showed them having sex or exposing themselves.

According to the law, he said, they should be deported or have their visas cancelled, but they should not be held in pretrial detention.

"I admit that they have done something wrong according to morality in Cambodian society, but their crimes did not warrant them being charged or put in jail."

He said that before the 10 were charged, he sent a three-page note to the Siem Reap provincial police and prosecutors, asserting that they had not committed any serious wrongdoing, were innocent of producing pornography, and should be released, but was turned down.

He said the families of some of the detainees have phoned him from overseas, but none had come yet to visit.

Two other lawyers have joined the defence, and visited the detainees in jail on Tuesday.

One of them, Chhouy Sopheak, said the group were in good health and detained in acceptable conditions.

He said they denied any wrongdoing.

- Additional reporting by AP

- NZ Herald

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