Missing Brazilian Man Last Seen in Sihanoukville

After working in London for two years, 27-year-old Brazilian national Daniel Alves de Lima decided to travel to Southeast Asia last October.

But in an echo of the case of miss­ing British teenager Eddie Gibson, who disappeared in Cambodia in 2004, the mechanical engineer from the small city of Colombo in the southeast of Brazil vanished in November after last being seen in Sihanoukville.

Lima’s cousin, Jean Johnson, has been in Cambodia for a month look­ing in vain for leads that might ex­plain his cousin’s disappearance.

Arriving in the country last month, Johnson started following the only two clues he had: A postcard sent from Siem Reap that reached Lima’s mother in Brazil in Decem­ber and an e-mail to Lima’s Thai girlfriend that placed him on “the coast” in mid-November.

On Nov 5, Lima sent an e-mail to his mother, Juvina Lima, saying he was enjoying his trip and would be leaving Bangkok for Cambodia, according to his cousin.

Lima was very close to his family and often e-mailed home, Johnson said. However, when communication stopped and after months without news, Lima’s family and friends prompted Johnson to come to Cam­bodia to find him.

A visit to Siem Reap bore no in­for­mation, so Johnson flew to Phnom Penh, where the immigration po­lice office informed him that Lima had entered Cambodia on Nov 6 through the Poipet border crossing. Immigration police had no re­cord of Lima leaving the country, Johnson said. Other than the date of entry, immigration officials could offer little help.

“I went to immigration on March 20 and the man said he will see what he can do,” Johnson said, add­ing that the immigration official had declined to give his name. Johnson said the office warned him that “it’s too hard to find missing people in Cambodia.”

In Bangkok, Johnson had met with Lima’s Thai girlfriend who had an e-mail dated Nov 20 in which Lima said that after a few more days on “the coast” in Cambodia he would be returning to Brazil, John­son said.

Johnson traveled to Sihanouk­ville, where he found several people who recognized Lima from his photo.

Johnson’s investigation led him to Sihanoukville’s Mash and Mel­ting Pot Guesthouse where a wo­man recognized Lima in a photo and told him that he had stayed at the guesthouse, although she could not remember the exact dates, he said.

However, Dutch national Tinja Wethekam, owner of the Mash and Melting Pot Guesthouse, said Sun­day that although he rem­em­bered meeting Lima, the Brazilian never stayed at his guesthouse.“We checked all the books, but he did not stay in our guesthouse,” Weth­e­kam said.

Sihanoukville immigration police chief Sam Saroeun said he had received a missing person report on Lima from the Ministry of Interior along with orders to investigate from ministry spokesman Lieu­tenant General Khieu Sopheak.

Khieu Sopheak said Sunday that he was unaware of the case.

Immigration Police Head­quar­ters officials said Sunday that they had received no complaint re­gar­ding Lima’s disappearance in Cam­bodia.

Chhay Bunna, chief of the international borders department at the immigration police, also said that he had received no complaint and suggested that Lima is probably in Thailand. “I want [Lima’s] cousin to complain to the Ministry of In­terior,” Chhay Bunna said.

Johnson said Sunday that at this point he would be glad to find any evidence of what happened to his cousin—even if Lima never makes it home. “I’ve worked for 16 years for the UN. I’ve worked in the Middle East, Kosovo and Africa,” Johnson said. “I know the situation.”

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