Russian pianist shows up in Thailand to face child abuse case

19:11, July 19, 2010      

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A renowned Russian pianist- composer appeared at a court in Thailand's Pattaya Monday as the bail terms required after he was charged two weeks ago with raping a minor in the coastal town.

Mikhail Pletnev, one of Russia's most acclaimed musicians and a founder of the Russian National Orchestra, said in a statement to media that he hopes everyone accepts he is a man of his word since he showed up as required by Pattaya District Court, who granted him a bail after he was arrested and charged of raping a 14-year- old Thai boy.

The pianist reiterated that he is innocent, and called on authorities and the press to refrain from speculating on his case until the police finish their investigation and the court gives verdict.

He also denied media reports that the police had discovered pornographic material in his personal computer when they inspected his house in Pattaya on July 5, the day Pletnev was arrested.

There had been much speculation that Pletnev would not return, after paying a 300,000-baht (9,375 U.S. dollar) for and left the kingdom to conduct a concert in Macedonia.

Pletnev, 53, was allowed to leave Thailand on July 7 on condition that he return by Sunday to Pattaya, a beach resort situated 100 kilometers southeast of Bangkok.

Pletnev has been a part-time resident in Pattaya for years, and the fact that he is a property holder here was one of the reasons that the court granted him bail.

Pletnev must appear in court again on July 30. No date has yet been set for his trial.

If found guilty of raping a minor, he faces up to 20 years in jail.

According to Pattaya-based child-protection groups, Pletnev had a history of child abuse at the resort, which is notorious for its nightlife and prostitution.

A 14-year-old boy, a previous employee of Pletnev, was willing to testify that the pianist abused him, police and child rights workers said.

"We've been working on his case with the police for a long time and finally had him arrested," said Supagon Noja, a spokeswoman for the Child Rights Protection Group in Chonburi province, where Pattaya is located.

She expressed confidence that he will be convicted.

Source: Xinhua


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