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
Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Life and Style
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
filmSony could have made a cult classic
Life and Style
fashionThe essential guide to all the designer Christmas sale dates
News
news... you won't believe how bad their skills were
News
people

Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright and Mark Wright
tvStrictly goes head-to-head with Apprentice
Sport
footballPremier League preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's clashes
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas