Wanted Australian Man Arrested After Robbery

Eight years after skipping bail in Australia on charges of kidnapping and robbery, an Australian man and his accomplice from New Zealand were charged Saturday for stealing a passport and camera from a British man in Siem Reap City while impersonating an Interpol official, officials said Sunday.

Guido James Eglitis, 68, who is retired, and Brett Hastie, 44, a construction manager, were arrested on Friday at Mr. Eglitis’ apartment in Siem Reap City’s Slakram commune, according to Chao Mao Vireak, deputy provincial police chief in charge of immigration affairs.

Mr. Mao Vireak said police had been searching for the pair for nearly a month after the victim, David Scotcher, 66, the British director of Learn4Life school, filed a complaint with immigration police on September 29.

“We already sent them to pretrial detention at the provincial prison yesterday evening,” Van Rith, deputy chief of the provincial police immigration bureau, said yesterday. He added that the pair had been charged by Investigating Judge Chhun Chanseiha on Saturday with theft under aggravated circumstances.

Both Mr. Eglitis and Mr. Hastie have confessed to the robbery, although police are unsure of their motive, said Mr. Mao Vireak, adding that Mr. Scotcher had returned to England out of fear for his safety.

“They entered Mr. Scotcher’s apartment at 10:20 p.m. to steal his camera and passport and used violence against the victim,” he said. “They also threatened to kill him if he informed police.”

Mr. Mao Vireak confirmed that the Australian Embassy in Phnom Penh had provided police with information relating to Mr. Eglitis’ 2007 arrest for kidnapping and his subsequent flight.

“They are very happy that we arrested him,” he said. “If he had not committed any violence in Cambodia, no one would have known that he was a fugitive.”

Mr. Eglitis fled Australia after being charged along with a partner with kidnapping, violent robbery and deprivation of liberty for dressing as a federal police officer and kidnapping Queensland businessman Ronald Sydney Ryton-Benson for ransom, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.

A February 1988 Los Angeles Times article details the case of a James G. Eglitis in Los Angeles federal court, in which he pled guilty to two counts of mail fraud.

Keut Vannareth, a provincial court prosecutor, said that police had arrested Mr. Eglitis based solely on the crimes he is accused of committing in Cambodia.

While checking Mr. Eglitis’ apartment in Siem Reap City, he said police also found material that could be used to make explosives.

“We found a piece of hydrogen explosive,” he said. “Right now, I have ordered experts to examine whether or not it is real explosive.”

Additional reporting by Peter Ford


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