British Sex Convict Quits 2nd Hunger Strike

Kandal provincial prison officials have given convicted sex offender John Keeler a larger prison cell, and as a result he has quit his second hunger strike, which lasted two days.

The British national, who is serving a three-year sentence,  began starving himself again shortly after returning from Kandal provincial hospital, where he was moved to a private room after a 10-day fast late last month.

“[Prison officials] were very worried about his health…and gave him a better room than the last one,” said one prison official. He was moved into a cell with 11 other prisoners, said Kandal provincial prison chief Muong Sam Arth, and eventually began eating again.

“Those prisoners like him and call him ‘Papa,’ ” Muong Sam Art said Wednesday. “[Keeler] seems satisfied with that name and usually tells his visitors he has 11 sons staying with him.”

Keeler was sentenced to prison Nov 20 on charges of debauchery. While he has denied being a pedophile, Keeler has admitted he videotaped four girls between the ages of 8 and 10 years old.

“He looks happier than be­fore,” Kandal court’s chief prosecutor Chheng Phat said after Keeler’s cell change.

Keeler is one of several foreigners arrested this year for sex crimes, although he is the only one to have spent any significant time in jail. Other foreigners quietly left the country with the help of their embassies.

At his sentencing, Keeler angrily accused his lawyer of taking a $5,400 bribe but failing to secure his release. He has since hired a new lawyer, according to prison officials, who said they hoped an appeals court would cut his sentence.

Keeler has blasted the British Embassy for not using its influence to keep him out of jail, and claims he is being used as a scapegoat by Cambodians who are angry at the lack of convictions against foreign sex suspects.


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