Nearly three months after two foreigners were convicted in absentia of sexually assaulting children in Siem Reap, the provincial court has failed to issue arrest warrants for the men, whose whereabouts are unknown.
Raj Deo, a 47-year-old Indian T-shirt vendor, was sentenced to 14 months in prison on June 16 for sex*ually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in December. Roy Sheppard, a 77-year-old British retiree, was convicted the following day of molesting three teenage boys last year. He was sentenced to 18 months.
Both were out on bail at the time of their convictions, and the Siem Reap Provincial Court did not issue an arrest warrant for either, using a legal loophole to grant them a 45-day window to request a retrial or appeal the decision.
But with that period long expired, the convicted child abusers remain free.
Duong Thavary, chief of the prov*incial police’s juvenile protection bureau, said on Tuesday that she could not move to arrest the men without a court-issued warrant.
“I never received a letter or arrest warrant from the court,” she said.
The judges in the two cases—Sin Sovannarath and Nguon Nara—refused to comment, while court spokesman Yin Srang could not be reached.
Samleang Seila, country director for child protection group Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE), which assisted in the investigations, said the situation was disturbing.
He said the court had decided not to issue an arrest warrant for Mr. Deo until it informed him of his conviction, but had been unable to reach him.
APLE is also pushing the Indian Embassy to get involved in the case, Mr. Seila said, given that “it is highly likely that he is still around in the country and exposed to children.”
As for Mr. Sheppard, he said the Briton filed an appeal with the court in July, but no hearing has been scheduled and APLE believes he is still in Siem Reap.
“We are frustrated with this court decision not to rearrest him after the guilty verdict,” he said. “The appeal process should not be an obstacle for doing that.”
retka@cambodiadaily.com, odom@cambodiadaily.com
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