Fifty years after the notorious abduction of three siblings in Australia, a Siem Reap bar owner and “person of interest” in the case was arrested upon returning to his home country last month, according to Australian media and a local child protection group.
The 71-year-old Australian man, whose name has been concealed amid ongoing investigations, was charged over separate allegations of child sex abuse in Australia. His name was forwarded to police investigating the mysterious disappearance of the “Beaumont children” from a beach in Adelaide, according to the Seven News network.
He has also been under investigation in Siem Reap province for two years over claims that he sexually abused at least two boys there, according to Samleang Seila, country director of anti-pedophile NGO Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE).
“We were informed that he got arrested in Australia,” Mr. Seila said on Sunday. “We were aware of the ongoing investigation in Siem Reap in conjunction with the investigation in Australia, and I can confirm that it’s the same person.”
Two Cambodian boys have accused the man of abusing them, he said, while other potential victims are still being interviewed.
Mr. Seila said rumors circulating in Siem Reap City tipped APLE and local police off to the alleged abuse, and that he believed the suspect met his victims through his bar. He said the man was also involved in local children’s NGOs.
“At this point, police are gathering more evidence to press charges against him…in Siem Reap,” he said.
However, Duong Thavary, chief of the provincial police’s juvenile protection bureau, said she was unaware of the case.
According to Seven News, the suspect was arrested on June 11 for three counts of sodomy, two cases of “unlawful sexual intercourse” and seven “indecent assaults” dating back to 1962. “The man’s name has been provided to detectives who are investigating the disappearance of Grant, Arnna and Jane Beaumont from Glenelg Beach in 1966,” it said.
The suspect’s alleged role in the case remains unclear.
(Additional reporting by Ben Sokhean)
retka@cambodiadaily.com
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