An Australian fugitive who recently finished a year-long prison sentence in Siem Reap province for stealing a passport and camera while posing as an Interpol agent was working at the behest of an Australian police detective, emails show.
Guido Eglitis, 69, a private investigator who went by the alias James An, was arrested and charged with robbing British national David Scotcher, then the director of Learn4Life school, in October of last year.
A Cambodian police officer takes a selfie, later released online, with Guido Eglitis, center, after he was arrested in Siem Reap province on October 24, 2015.According to Mr. Eglitis, it was suspected that Mr. Scotcher’s actual identity was David Shom, an Australian fugitive and suspected pedophile who fled the country almost two decades ago, whom he was helping Australian police track down.
“Field reports went to the various appropriate authorities back in Phnom Penh and Australia, and in fact I’ve worked with Australian police on a number of occasions,” he said in an August interview at the provincial prison.
According to an exchange of emails between Mr. Eglitis and Peter Sloan, a Western Australian Police Child Abuse Squad detective, the private investigator sent a copy of Mr. Scotcher’s passport to Australian police in late September last year.
“James, we have completed preliminary checks on the passport and it appears that SCOTCHER is in fact who he says he is,” Sergeant Sloan wrote in an email about a week later.
According to Bryan Littlely, a former Australian journalist who initially coordinated communication between police and Mr. Eglitis, and who declined to name the officers involved, high-ranking officials had up until that point been aware of the work the private investigator was doing on their behalf.
After it was deemed that the passport did not match to Mr. Shom, however, “there’s no indication that he had clearance from the hierarchy” to request Mr. Eglitis to continue pursuing Mr. Scotcher, he said of the Australian police officer.
“This fella, this copper, wasn’t convinced that all was lost with this Scotcher. He requested Guido, James An, to get more evidence,” Mr. Littlely said. “James An was acting with the belief that he had the support of an Australian police agency, and there’s evidence to that.”
The email conversation between Mr. Eglitis and Sgt. Sloan, obtained by The Cambodia Daily, suggests that is indeed the case.
“Do you have record of Shom’s fingerprints?” Mr. Eglitis wrote to Sgt. Sloan on October 5. “If so, I may be able to obtain prints from Scotcher for comparison.”
“WAPOL and INTERPOL having differing views on how this can be achieved,” Sgt. Sloan responded. “My thoughts are if you can obtain something from SCOTCHER we will be able to compare with what is on our system for SHOM. WAPOL will not release the prints for Cambodia to do the comparison and INTERPOL want both sets and do it themselves.”
“Bloody politics,” he added.
Two and a half weeks later, Mr. Eglitis was charged with kidnapping and robbery after taking Mr. Scotcher’s camera to obtain fingerprints. He was sent to Siem Reap provincial prison, where he remained until his release late last month.
Asked about his relationship with Mr. Eglitis, Sgt. Sloan said in an email that the private investigator was “working on his own instinct.”
“Mostly he reported to Brian LITTLELY who would forward the information to me. Brian is a reporter I believe. I do not know what AN was doing in Cambodia. I was informed that he had sighting of who he believed was SHOM on 21/9/2015,” he said.
“I am aware that once AN believed he had sighted SHOM AFP were made aware and were continuing inquiries for WA [Western Australia] Police utilising their own resources,” he added.
“AN was advised on 29/9/2015 that the photographs forwarded to me via LITTLEY were not a match for SHOM nor were the fingerprints obtained.”
After being sent the email exchange that shows the sergeant continuing to discuss obtaining fingerprints from Mr. Eglitis after that date, Sgt. Sloan did not respond to further questions.
According to Mr. Littlely, Australian authorities did little to assist Mr. Eglitis during his imprisonment.
Upon release, Mr. Eglitis was deported from Cambodia and allowed to travel to Bangkok, despite a 2014 Interpol warrant for him over a 2007 incident in which he attempted to detain a man in Australia. Thai Interpol officials arrested Mr. Eglitis on Thursday and revoked his visa. He is expected to be extradited to Australia in the coming days.
According to Vern Pasfield, a childhood friend of Mr. Eglitis, embassy officials in Bangkok recently asked him to pay for the private investigator’s flight home.
“If he’s been incarcerated by Australian police and they want him to face charges in Brisbane, why aren’t they paying his airfare? What’s happening there?” he said, noting the normal practice of governments paying to have convicts returned to face prison time.
“He knew all the police, and the officials knew him,” he added. “He’s just fallen foul to the system, and I think some people have taken advantage of him.”
retka@cambodiadaily.com
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