A 25-year-old American man arrested in Sihanoukville on Saturday is due to be extradited to the U.S. on Thursday to face child-rape charges there, two months after he skipped bail, an immigration police official said Wednesday.
Ian Andrew Heller is wanted in the U.S. on four counts of child rape against a single female victim, according to court documents for the state of Washington’s Clark County, and is also facing a charge of bail jumping after he failed to appear in court on August 7.
The U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh arranged for Nebraska-born Mr. Heller to be deported this morning after Interior Minister Sar Kheng signed off on the deportation order, said Ouk Hay Seila, director of the investigation and procedure enforcement bureau at the Interior Ministry’s immigration department.
“We can announce that the interior minister has signed and issued the order to deport him back to the U.S. because he is accused of child sex abuse,” Mr. Hay Seila said.
Although Cambodia does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S., Mr. Seila said it was standard procedure to deport Americans who are alleged or convicted perpetrators of child sex abuse.
Cambodian authorities announced the arrest of Mr. Heller in Sihanoukville on Saturday by posting a photograph of his passport to the National Police website the same day.
Police initially said the American was detained for holding an “illegal expired passport [visa]” and only later discovered he was wanted for crimes in the U.S. when the U.S. flagged his passport.
But Keo Ratana, deputy police chief in Preah Sihanouk province, said Wednesday that police arrested Mr. Heller only after the embassy alerted them that the suspect was in the country and asked them to recover his passport.
“We arrested him after the embassy sent a letter saying he had committed sexual abuse, and after we arrested him we checked his passport and saw that [the visa] had expired by 53 days,” he said.
Mr. Ratana said Mr. Heller had originally arrived in Siem Reap City, but had been staying at Coco’s Bungalow Resort on Koh Rong off the coast of Sihanoukville.
The U.S. Embassy referred questions to Cambodian authorities.