The Jakarta Police have revealed that most of the alleged molestation victims of recently arrested French citizen Francoise Camille Abello, aka Frans, were street children.
Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Nana Sudjana said the arrest was made following a tip off regarding the suspect’s activities. The police then began an investigation and were finally able to capture him at Hotel PP in Taman Sari district, West Jakarta, last month.
“We arrested him while he was in the hotel with two minors, one already naked and one half-naked. We took him to the [Jakarta] police headquarters immediately,” Nana said in a press conference at the Jakarta Police headquarters as quoted by kompas.com on Thursday.
Frans, a 65-year-old retiree, has allegedly molested at least 305 minors. “Most of whom were street children. The police have identified at least 17 victims, whose ages range from 10 to 17 years old,” said Nana.
Nana said Frans usually approached his targets while they were on the streets. That was when he claimed to be a professional photographer who was on the hunt for models.
“He offered them to be his photo models. Then he brought the kids to hotels,” Nana said.
Besides targeting street children, Frans reportedly looked for his targets at malls. “He even asked his victims to bring along their friends,” Nana said.
The hotel rooms were designed to be like a real photography studio, Nana said. “He also put makeup on the children, took their picture and then molested them.”
According to Nana, Frans physically tortured his victims when they were reluctant to obey him. The police said Frans also installed a hidden camera in the room to record his sexual activity with the children.
The police confiscated the laptop used to store the recordings, on which the police found at least 305 recordings of different victims.
The police are investigating the case to find out when Frans began carrying out his crimes. “It would be impossible to record hundreds of videos in one day. I believe it took him years to make them. Also, he has been living in Indonesia since 2015. I urge everyone who feel they were a victim of Frans to report it to us,” Nana said.
In the arrest, the police confiscated 21 items of clothing that were worn by the victims, a laptop, six memory cards, 20 contraceptives, two vibrators and six cameras.
Frans has been charged under Article 81 in conjunction with articles 76D and 82 in conjunction with Article 76E of the Child Protection Law.
“He [may] face the death penalty, with a minimum of 10 years or a maximum of 20 years of imprisonment,” Nana said.
Frans is not the only foreigner implicated in the molestation of minors in Indonesia. Last month, the Jakarta Police arrested an American fugitive, Russ Albert Medlin, for alleged sexual assault against minors. Russ is a known pedophile in his home country, according to Jakarta Police.
As many as 70,000 children are victims of sexual exploitation annually in Indonesia, according to global anti-trafficking network ECPAT International.
Although showing appreciation for the work of the police, ECPAT Indonesia national coordinator Ahmad Sofian criticized the slow investigation, hence so many victims were found.
According to Sofian, street children becoming victims of sexual assault is not a new thing in the country.
In terms of the legal aspects or legal protection, they are an easy target as they are usually off the radar. “They are also easy to find and easy to attract as they are mostly in need of money and leisure,” Sofian told The Jakarta Post on Friday.
Sofian also said the protection of street children in Indonesia was bad so that when they became victims, authorities tended to be careless.
“They are mostly unwilling to report their case to law enforcement as they know that, based on experience, street children who report their case are usually ignored or even mocked [by authorities],” Sofian said.
In this regard, Sofian urged law enforcers such as the police to take such issues more seriously. “The police need to improve their capacity to handle such cases as there are still a few of them [the police] who really want to deepen their expertise in this field [child sexual abuse].”
KPAI commissioner Ai Maryati Solihah acknowledged that perpetrators of child molestation often targeted those who were vulnerable and therefore easy to manipulate. Most of them are underprivileged and sometimes in need of attention.
The commission, Ai said, appreciated the police for being able to uncover this case. “Should the police manage to verify all 305 victims, we urge the authorities to provide legal protection for each of them,” she told the Post on Friday.
She called on the government to increase background checks on foreigners who want to enter Indonesia to prevent such cases from happening again in the future. “We have to make sure that those who enter Indonesia do not have a record of sex offence.”
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