Mu Sochua: Australian Rapist Will Face Justice

Convicted Australian sex offender Clint Betterridge will be returned to Cambodia from Aus­tralia “as soon as possible,” said Minister of Women’s Affairs Mu Sochua, who met on Wednes­day with the Australian delegation currently investigating the case.

Through an Australian Embas­sy mistake, Betterridge was is­sued a replacement passport in Phnom Penh after police seized his original. He fled Cam­bodia before being brought to trial.

Betterridge was later convicted in absentia of sex crimes for sexually abusing eight girls hired by him as household maids and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

“I cannot give a date when he will be extradited [to Cambodia], but there will be no delay and he should be returned as early as possible,” Mu Sochua said on Thursday.

Since the two countries have no extradition treaty, the minister said she discussed with the Australian officials the legal framework of both countries and what would need to be done to return the convicted sex offender, who remains free and is believed to be in Australia.

The Australian officials “ex­pressed a clear line of cooperation” in the possible extradition, Mu Sochua said.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer was reported as saying that Australia wants to uphold the conviction and that he should serve his sentence in Cambodia.

The three-member Australian delegation, made up of officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the attorney general’s office, arrived in Cambodia Wednesday, said Karen Lanyon, spokeswoman for the Australian Embassy.

She confirmed that the delegation is working to find ways to return Betterridge to Cambodia and to “bring him to justice,” Lanyon said.

Chum Suonry, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Thursday the Australian delegation had no scheduled meeting with the ministry.

Betterridge was arrested in Siem Reap with another Aus­tralian, Bart Lau­waert, but was released on bail by the appeals court on Jan 8.

Lauwaert, who was convicted of similar offenses, is serving a 20- year sentence.




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