Thailand’s Extradition of UK Sex Offender Delayed

Anti-human trafficking officials are still hopeful of taking into custody a British sex offender wanted in Cambodia on child abuse allegations, despite a delay in his extradition from Thailand, a government official said yesterday.

Bith Kimhong, director of the Interior Ministry’s anti-human trafficking department, said the government sent Bangkok an official request for David Fletcher’s extradition Sept 22, well ahead of an Oct 5 deadline.

But he said Thailand had placed an indefinite suspension on complying to the request.

“They suspended it since they could not make it on time. I don’t know when it will be done,” he said. “We have to wait and see the response from the [Thai] Foreign Affairs Ministry.”

The government has offered no details about its allegations against Mr Fletcher, 56, who ran an unregistered NGO in Phnom Penh that distributed food to children at the Stung Meanchey garbage dump.

Child rights NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, however, claims to have evidence that Mr Fletcher used his operation to make contact with children he later abused.

Mr Fletcher fled Phnom Penh in June following media scrutiny of his NGO, according to Mr Kimhong. He said Thai police soon arrested Mr Fletcher for failing to disclose a 1997 statutory rape conviction in England upon entering Thailand, but released him for lack of evidence to lay new charges.

Thai police rearrested him Aug 6 on the strength of a Cambodian arrest warrant.

Thailand’s ambassador to Cambodia, Prasas Prasasvinitchai, declined to speak with a reporter yesterday. Spokesmen for Thailand’s Interior and Foreign Affairs ministries could not be reached for comment.

   (Additional reporting by Zsombor Peter)

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