Group Seeks Dutch Help To Prosecute Suspected Pedophile

A Dutch group has urged Dutch authorities to assist in the prosecution of a 65-year-old man from the Netherlands who was arrested in Cambodia last week and charged with sexually abusing boys at an NGO where he worked.

“Pedophiles can avoid punishment by bribery or by fleeing the country on bail,” the Dutch branch of Switzerland-based NGO Terre des Hommes wrote in an e-mailed statement Wednesday.

“With their knowledge and experience, Dutch police and justice officials are able to help their Cam­bo­dian counterparts in preparing a lawsuit against the Dutch suspect,” the organization said.

Dutch citizen Cornelis Cham­uleau was charged on April 22 with sexually abusing boys aged 8 to 15 at youth education NGO Mondol Op’thom, where he was acting general director. Mr Chamuleau is in pro­visional detention in Preah Siha­nouk province, provincial Prosecu­tor Chief Bou Bunhang said yesterday.

The 65-year-old suspect has been under observation for four years by anti-pedophile group Action Pour les Enfants, said APLE lawyer Peng Maneth. His organization believes Mr Chamuleau used his position to sexually abuse many children during that period, he added.

Terre des Hommes, which fo­cuses on child’s rights, said in its Wednesday statement that “Dutch political attention to this case re­duces the risk of corrupt practices and improves due process.”

It also said that Dutch authorities “can be very helpful in gathering evidence” and in ensuring a “child-friendly interrogation” of the al­leged victims.

Johannet Gaemer, second secretary of the Embassy of the Nether­lands in Bangkok, wrote in an e-mail Wednesday that the prosecution of Mr Chamuleau is “in the hands of the Cambodian authorities.” He did not respond directly to a question on whether the Dutch authorities plan to involve themselves in the case.

“The Dutch authorities are currently not involved in the prosecution of this person,” he wrote.

Lieutenant General Khieu So­pheak, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said the government welcomes cooperation from foreign countries in criminal cases.

When informed of the statement by Terre des Hommes, he said it is against Cambodian law for suspects to flee on bail or bribe their way out of detention.

In a 2007 report on child sex tourism in Cambodia, Terre des Hommes said that “Cambodia is known as a prime location for child-sex offenders.”

“Dutch tourists engaging in sexual abuse of children in Cambodia act under near impunity in both Cambodia and the Netherlands,” the 2007 report claimed.

      (Additional reporting by Khy Sovuthy)

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