Foreigners held for 'pornographic' party in Cambodia released on bail

PHNOM PENH - A Cambodian court has granted bail to seven out of 10 foreigners facing trial on pornography charges over a raucous party in the tourist hot-spot of Siem Reap, a court spokesman said on Thursday (Feb 8).

The group - five Britons, two Canadians, a Norwegian, a New Zealander and a Dutch national - was arrested two weeks ago by police who raided their pool bash at a private villa in the city, which flanks Cambodia's famed Angkor Wat temple ruins.

Police accused the foreigners of "singing and dancing pornographically" and detained 10 out of the 77 party-goers initially rounded up in the crackdown.

The defendants, aged from 19 to 31, now face up to one year in prison after a Siem Reap court charged them with producing pornographic pictures and materials. A prosecutor accused the party organisers of circulating obscene images online to promote the event.

The defendants have denied the allegations, saying they were wearing "sexy" clothing but were not fully nude or responsible for any pornography.

On Thursday, a Siem Reap court spokesman said the seven had been granted bail.

"They have been released from prison," Yin Srang told Agence France-Presse, refusing to provide more details.

Defence attorney Ouch Sopheaktra said lawyers requested bail for the seven because "they were not the organisers of the party" and were therefore more likely to be released.

Lawyers did not seek bail for the other three - a British, Dutch and Norwegian national - who rented the villa and organised the party, he added.

No date has been set for the trial.

While Cambodia is a popular tourist hub and boasts a free-wheeling nightlife, the Buddhist country is often strict when protecting local traditions or heritage sites.

Authorities banned skimpy clothing inside the Angkor Wat complex in 2016 and have previously arrested and deported foreigners for taking racy photos among the ruins, which are considered sacred.

But the location of past violations has been inside the ancient city, not in the adjoining town of Siem Reap, a popular party destination lined with bars catering to foreign tourists.