Alleged Visa Offenders From Church Raid To Be Deported

Fourteen alleged visa offenders, all Africans arrested during a police raid on a Phnom Penh church on Sunday, will be deported, municipal deputy police chief in charge of foreigners Hy Pru said Thursday.

Mr Pru said by telephone that the 14 Nigerian and Guinean nationals will be sent to the Interior Ministry’s immigration police department today, not Wednesday as he had previously stated.

“We will send them to the de­partment by [Friday] morning,” he said. “In principle, if their visas are not valid, we will send them back to their homeland.”

Police raided a service at Christ Embassy church on Sunday re­portedly because of noise complaints from neighbors and initially detained 57 people, mostly Africans, until they could present their passports and valid visas. More than half were released the same day.

Thong Lim, immigration police department director at the Interior Ministry, declined to comment on Thursday and refer­red all questions to National Po­lice spokes­man Kirth Chan­tha­rith.

Mr Chantharith said Thursday that it is standard procedure to send people with expired visas back to their home countries, but he could not specify exactly when the 14 would be deported be­cause it depended on the availability of police escorts and flight information.

“We will practice the immigration law,” he said. “The law states that once someone has the problem like this we must send them back to their homeland.”

Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu So­peak said that deportation is a common outcome for any foreigner who breaks Cambodian immigration laws. He added that the law states the deportees must leave the country the same way they entered it.

“Every foreigner has to understand the law,” Mr Sopeak said.

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