Suspected British Pedophile Not Yet Charged

A Briton suspected of sexually abusing children in Kandal province appeared at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday before being remanded back into police custody, where he complained of psychological instability.

Michael Leach, 50, was arrested Sunday in Kandal’s Kien Svay district on suspicion of paying to have sex with three girls aged 11 to 16. The arrest was Mr Leach’s second in Cambodia after he was briefly detained on suspicion of abusing girls in a Phnom Penh orphanage in 2005.

“The court still has not charged the suspect. We have sent him back to police custody because we didn’t have time to question Mr Leach or the other suspects,” said deputy prosecutor Keu Bunnara.

During an interview yesterday at the Phnom Penh municipal anti-trafficking police station in Tuol Kok district, Mr Leach told a reporter he did not want to comment on the case.

“Right now my head is completely sort of messed up,” he said. “To me, I’m not sure what’s real and what’s not.”

“To be honest, with something like this there’s only one perception, there’s only one way in reporting it,” he said. “There’s no such thing as ‘innocent’ in these types of cases.”

The mother of the 13-year-old victim, Eth Oeurn, 40, who is also being detained adjacent to Mr Leach’s cell, denied the allegation that she sold her daughter to Mr Leach for $1,500 for one week.

“I believed [a woman] brought my daughter to the guesthouse for a job to wash dishes,” she said.

In 2005, Mr Leach was detained on suspicion of sexually abusing children at the Lighthouse Orphanage in Phnom Penh while posing as a doctor. He continued to deny any wrongdoing yesterday and said the statements accusing him of sexual abuse all amounted to the same thing: “White man. English man. Age 45. Tall man. Bald. He said he was a doctor and told me to do this and he abuses me.”

After being detained for 10 hours by police in 2005, he was released. On the day of his release he was asked to return to the orphanage by Bin Long, the manager at the time.

“We have Western visitors every day. We don’t know who is bad or good,” Keo Rithy, the current manger of the orphanage, said yesterday.


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