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Australian Cleared in Child-Sex Court Case

A judge has dismissed a case involving the second application of Australia's child-sex tourism law, saying testimony offered by a 16-year-old Cambodian boy was "worthless."

Magistrate Michael Somes, in a Nov. 13 ruling in the Australian capital of Canberra, found the prosecution had insufficient evidence to convict John Holloway, a senior Australian diplomat, of violating the law. The decision means the case will not go to trial.

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Australia has been aggressive in its attempts to stop its citizens from sexually exploiting children in other countries. (See Monitor story of Sept. 5, 1996.) A 1994 law makes it illegal for Australians to have sex with a child under 16 anywhere in the world.

Mr. Holloway, a former ambassador to Cambodia, told reporters he was eager to resume his career and criticized the child-sex statute for providing no protection against false accusations.

Holloway was charged after allegations against him came up during a separate investigation of a British doctor practicing in Phnom Penh. The doctor was convicted in Cambodia of charges relating to the sexual abuse of minors.

Australia's sex-tourism law was first used against Anthony Carr, an unemployed man who came under suspicion of sexually abusing children in a suburb of Sydney. Police found videotapes of Mr. Carr molesting a small child in the Philippines, enabling them to use the new law in their successful case against him.

But some lawyers have criticized the 1994 law on legal and practical grounds. In the Holloway case, for instance, there were early disagreements between defense lawyers and prosecutors over the translation of the alleged victim's comments.

The Australian government flew two Cambodian boys to Canberra to testify in this month's pretrial hearing. Holloway's defense lawyer, after cross-examining one of the boys for two days, attempted to have him cited for contempt for lying to the court.

At least two other defendants are facing charges involving the child-sex law.

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