Thailand allows Russian pianist on child sex charge to leave

A famed Russian pianist and conductor who is accused of raping a teenage boy in a Thai resort has been allowed to leave the country and prepare for a forthcoming concert appearance.

A court in the coastal town of Pattaya granted bail to Mikhail Pletnev and gave him permission to fly to Europe, as long he returns within the next 12 days.

Police said the 53-year-old musician, who has several properties in the resort, has denied the allegations and intends to return to Thailand to defend himself.

The arrest of the conductor of the Russian National Orchestra earlier this week is just the latest in a series of high-profile cases in Thailand involving allegations of paedophilia. Mr Pletnev faces up to 20 years in jail if he is convicted of the charges.

"We expect him to come back given that he is famous and that he claims that he is innocent. And since he has hired a legal team, we expect him to come back to fight the case," said Lt-Colonel Omsin Sukkankaa, a police spokesman.

The musician, who in 2005 won a Grammy award for his arrangement of Prokofiev's Cinderella, is due to lead his orchestra in a summer music festival in Macedonia next week.

Reports say the organisers of the event in the town of Ohrid expect Mr Pletnev and his fellow musicians to participate and that the allegations will be countered with a defence of mistaken identity.

Yet not everyone approves of the decision by the court to allow the high-profile conductor bail of $9,000 (£6,000) and permission to fly out of Thailand.

"Why the judge let him go is a question that has struck in many of our hearts. There are some questions that need to be answered," said Supagon Noja of the Child Protection and Development Centre, a Pattaya-based non-governmental organisation.

Thailand has long carried a reputation as a destination for sex tourists and paedophiles because of a repeated failure by the authorities to enforce laws. Pattaya, located 90 miles from the capital, Bangkok, has for decades been notorious for its nightlife and prostitution.

Police said Mr Pletnev was arrested while he was eating dinner following a tip-off from a Thai national, Traipob Boonmasong, who had himself been charged with child rape and involvement in a child-prostitution ring.

Colonel Omsin said the evidence against the musician, who owns a restaurant and a club in Pattaya, include a statement from a 14-year-old boy who claims he was twice raped by him in Mr Traipob's house. They also discovered photographs of Mr Pletnev, who has lived in Thailand for the past 15 years, in so-called "compromising situations" with other young boys.

"The boy said he had lived in Traipob's house for a year and was raped by Pletnev twice," said Colonel Omsin. "The first time was in the middle of last year and the second time was early this year."

The conductor is a member of the Russian President's advisory board on culture and holds the title of "people's artist", the highest such award for people working in the arts.

He has denied all of the allegations against him. He has said his dealings with Mr Traipob were connected to the care for his Pattaya properties when he was on the road, and that he had no knowledge about the man's alleged involvement in a child-sex ring.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones