Lawyer Asks For Return of Fugitive Client

The Cambodian lawyer for a convicted Australian sex offender on Sunday has asked his client to return to Cambodia.

In January, the Siem Reap court convicted Clint Rex Better­ridge in absentia of having sex with underage girls and sentenced him to 10 years in a Cam­bodian prison.

Through a mix-up, the Austral­ian Embassy issued Betterridge a passport after he was re­leased on bail, allowing him to flee Cam­bodia.

“According to [Cambodian] state law, the court has found him guilty so he must be imprisoned in Cambodia,” said Dy Borima, the lawyer representing Better­ridge. “But if my client is not guilty, he is free and should be allowed to go back to his country.”

Dy Borima added that Better­ridge should be returned to Cambodia since further appeals may be filed in his defense.

Last week, an Australian delegation came to Cambodia to discuss with Cambodian officials how to return Betterridge to Cambodia. Since Cambodia and Australia have no formal extradition treaty, the officials met with the Cambodians to find a legal way to return Betterridge. He is expected to be returned as soon as possible, Minister of Women’s and Veter­an’s Affairs Mu Sochua said last week.

According to news reports, Betterridge last week surrendered his passport to the Austral­ian government. The report by the Australian Associated Press, which cited the Australian Broad­casting Corp Web site, said the Australian De­partment of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed that a representative of Betterridge handed the passport over to Australian authorities.

The report did not say if Bet­terridge was being detained or when he would be returned. He was arrested in Siem Reap with another Au­stralian, Bart Lauwaert. Lauwaert, who did not receive bail, was convicted of similar sex offenses and is serving a 20-year sentence. In recent months, the number of Westerners arrested and put on trial for sex offenses in Cam­bodia has increased.

 

 

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