Sri Lanka B&B owner held for molesting French tourists

COLOMBO (AFP) - A foreign guesthouse operator was arrested in Sri Lanka on Friday after two French tourists complained they had been sexually molested at his guest house, police said.

The 44-year-old Olivier Sage, who manages the "French Villa" beach property at Unawatuna, 120 km south of Colombo, would be taken before a magistrate later on Friday, said senior superintendent Jayantha Wickremasinghe.

"The two French tourists complained that the guest house owner used criminal force on them two days ago," Mr Wickremasinghe said.

"We have sufficient grounds to make the arrest."

The guest house website described him as a "Swiss-French" ex-restaurateur managing a "cosy Sri Lankan style villa", which also offers ayurvedic treatments, yoga and meditation.

It was not immediately clear if he had dual Swiss and French citizenship.

The guesthouse could not be reached for comment.

Mr Wickremasinghe said the man carried a French passport at the time of his arrest and had first arrived in Sri Lanka nearly three years ago and later started managing the guest house.

He was arrested under a penal code offence that, on conviction, carries a jail term of five years. Sri Lanka tightened laws in 2006 to protect women and children from sexual harassment.

Wickremasinghe said one of the victims had been subjected to medical tests and a forensic report was being prepared.

The latest complaint came as police earlier this month said there had been an increase in attacks against foreign tourists visiting the Indian Ocean island emerging from nearly four decades of ethnic war.

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