Court Searches for Pair in Connection to Adoption Case

A Phnom Penh Municipal Court Judge said Wednesday that the court is searching for two people suspected of baby trafficking thought to be the ringleaders in a scam that targeted orphanages and Western couples looking to adopt Cambodian children.

The pair, a man and a woman, are thought to be the same people who purchased two children from a Cambodian woman earlier this year in a case that sparked an investigation of the Asian Orph­ans Association, ultimately halting several adoptions that were thought to be completed.

Judge Ham Meng Seh said he met with the Cambodian mother of the two children on Wednes­day, but would not disclose what was discussed. He did say the woman now has her two children and was accompanied to the court by several aid workers from a local NGO.

Several US parents who came to Cambodia to adopt children through the AOA, but are now unable to take them home, learned Wednesday that the US Immigration and Naturalization Service will contact them Nov 30 with an explanation.

US Ambassador Kent Wiede­mann last week told the parents that US visas for their children will likely be denied by the US government amid suspicions that the children were trafficked.

The parents have vowed to appeal the INS decision, either in Cambodia or in the US.

Gary Thaler,  from the US state of New York, said he planned to return to the US this Friday because his bank account is depleted and he has become concerned about the health of his mother, who accompanied him to Cambodia. Thaler said no one has come forward to claim his new 21-month-old daughter, who he plans to leave with friends here as he battles for her visa.

“My daughter has been [at the orphanage] for two years. Where does that leave her if I don’t get a visa? Nobody is out there looking for her. Somebody has got to realize that,” he said.


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