Fallen 1970s British rock star Gary Glitter, who was convicted in Britain on child pornography charges, is back in Cambodia, his lawyer said Monday.
Glitter, whose real name is Paul Gadd, has been defending his right to stay in Cambodia at Phnom Penh Municipal Court since Oct 15, said Naryth Hem of BNG Advocates and Solicitors.
Glitter was deported from Cambodia in December following a campaign launched by Minister of Women’s Affairs Mu Sochua, who claimed the country’s international image was being damaged by the disgraced rock star’s presence.
Glitter has committed no crime in Cambodia and is now seeking to overturn the government’s ban on his residency, his lawyer said.
“So far the government did not provide enough evidence to expel him,” Naryth Hem said.
Glitter has been summoned by the court to fight his case, Naryth Hem said. The former singer entered the country sometime before Oct 15 on a short-term visa, he added.
“We have been handling the case since the day he was expelled,” Naryth Hem said.
Naryth Hem could not confirm whether Glitter entered the country at a border crossing or at one of the country’s two international airports.
In 1999, Glitter was sentenced in Britain to four months behind bars after pleading guilty to child porn charges over a collection of 4,000 hard-core photos of boys and girls between the ages of
2 and 10. The images were discovered when Glitter sent his computer for repair.
The singer of “I’m the Leader of the Gang” and “Do You Wanna Touch” returned to Cambodia about a month ago, according to immigration officials, Glitter’s neighbors and a member of his domestic staff.
In January, Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said Glitter would never be allowed back into the country. Khieu Sopheak could not be reached for comment on Monday.
Glitter is currently based at a discreet but luxurious riverside mansion in semi-rural Kandal province’s Takhmau district, about 20 km from Phnom Penh, neighbors said Sunday.
Glitter has never committed any crimes in Cambodia, according to a man who guards and takes care of the lavish house built in traditional Khmer style.
“Now he’s old, and he only wishes to live peacefully,” the caretaker said. “He has not committed any problems here.”
Glitter swims in his outdoor pool and likes to jog daily, he said Sunday, adding that the singer writes up to three hours a day.
Glitter is now hoping to open a local business, neighbors said. But, one neighbor said, “he still hesitates to invest because the political parties have yet to reach an agreement” on the formation of a new government.
The caretaker said he lives in Glitter’s mansion while the singer is away, and in a stilt house on the grounds when Glitter is in residence.
The caretaker’s wife, brother, father and two sons, ages 18 and 13, all live on the grounds of Glitter’s home, the caretaker said.
“That’s him,” the neighbor said, referring to a recent photo of Glitter. “But now he has his hair cut short.”
“I know him only as Gary Glitter,” he said. “That’s his car,” he added, pointing to a black Suzuki jeep on the other side of a rusted barbed-wire fence. “He lives there…. He’s been here almost a month.”
Neighbors were unaware of Glitter’s conviction and were unmoved when they were informed.
One man said Glitter is friendly, despite speaking little Khmer. “He comes and goes—there are no problems,” he said.
“He’s not involved with any girls…. I think he’s a good guy. I feel he wants to help Cambodia.”
Mu Sochua voiced strong concern after hearing of Glitter’s return to Cambodia.
“He should not be given one day, one minute on Cambodian territory, as far as rights of children are concerned,” she said. “I think it is a shame that the government would have to deal with a person with a background of pedophilia” by going to court to fight over his right to stay.
John Mitchell, deputy head of mission at the British Embassy, declined to comment on whether the embassy had known Glitter was in Cambodia. “The responsibility for who comes in and out of the country rests with the Cambodian authorities,” he said. The embassy will not be involved in Glitter’s court case. “These are matters for the Cambodian authorities.” he said. “It’s not for us to interfere in the judicial process of another country.”