Siem Reap Police Prepare to Send Alleged School Pimp to Court

Police in Siem Reap province involved in the arrest of a school director on Monday said Tuesday that they were sending the man to court Wednesday recommending a charge of sex trafficking.

Veha Long, 32, was arrested in Siem Reap City after a months-long, multi-agency investigation into allegations from a former volunteer at the unlicensed Underprivileged Children School that students were being pimped out to foreign tourists who would donate to the school.

Provincial anti-human trafficking police chief Duong Thavary said officers would accompany Mr. Long to his rental house in Siem Reap City, where he was staying along with nine of his teenage students at the time of his arrest, to gather more evidence before sending him to court.

“In our report we have accused him of [selling] child prostitutes,” she said.

“The suspect did not admit he is guilty, but we have enough evidence to prove that he really committed the crime,” she added, including unspecified “online” evidence of Mr. Long arranging sexual encounters for the tourists with his students.

Ms. Thavary said police were so far aware of two victims, a pair of 17-year-old boys who were among the nine found at Mr. Long’s rental home on Monday.

She said police released Mr. Long’s sister, a teacher at the school, after concluding that she had no knowledge of the alleged crime but were pursuing the foreigners suspected of abusing the students.

“We will find the foreigners, but I cannot say more because this is a police secret,” she said.

The nine students, including the two alleged victims, were being held at the provincial social affairs department for further questioning.

Department deputy director Chheng Vanna said the school Mr. Long was running closed its doors Tuesday while she visited to question students, but she did not know whether it would be shut down permanently.

“We are not sure if the school is going to close,” she said. “We will discuss this with the provincial education department, because there are many students who still come to the school because they are poor.”

The school’s website says it has been operating since 2008, dedicated to providing a “well tailored curriculum to the most vulnerable underprivileged Cambodia[n] children.” It asks for donations and encourages volunteers.

A woman answering the school’s listed phone number claimed to have no affiliation with or knowledge of the school.

A statement from the Child Protection Unit, a collaboration between the National Police and the Cambodian Children’s Fund, says raids related to the case were also conducted Tuesday and that the agencies involved were “liaising with international policing agencies.”

The unit’s director of operations, James McCabe, declined to elaborate on what he said was an ongoing investigation.

pheap@cambodiadaily.com

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