The Interior Ministry’s anti-trafficking unit is gathering evidence against a convicted British child sex offender held by police in Thailand in order to request that Thai authorities return him to Cambodia to face charges here, officials said yesterday.
Bith Kimhong, director of the Interior Ministry’s anti-human trafficking department, said yesterday that David Fletcher fled the capital last week after revealing that his NGO, Rubbish Dump Project, which distributed food to children at Stung Meanchey garbage dump, was not registered with the government. Fletcher was arrested Sunday for failing to disclose his 1997 statutory rape conviction when entering Thailand, Mr Kimhong said, adding that police suspect Fletcher abused young girls from the former dump.
“We will ask for him to be deported here if we have the evidence in time,” said Mr Kimhong.
Mr Kimhong said that his department, which had been monitoring Fletcher since 2009 in collaboration with the anti-pedophile NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, assigned six officers to interview potential victims in Stung Meanchey dump last week when reports exposed Fletcher’s previous conviction.
APLE Country Director Samleang Seila said yesterday that collecting evidence against Fletcher was difficult because he was aware that he was being monitored.
According to Mr Seila, Fletcher had tried to pay a 17-year-old girl’s mother to marry the girl, a charge Fletcher denied during a phone interview last week.
According to Steve Morrish, executive director of the NGO South East Asia Investigations into Social and Humanitarian Activities, his organization collaborated with Britain’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center to pinpoint the Thai guesthouse where Fletcher was staying when he was arrested.
“We were lucky to catch him after he did a runner when the articles came out,” said Mr Morrish. “We had some local sources so we could tell the Thai police where he was.”
(Additional reporting by Cheng Sokhorng)