Thailand to Extradite UK Rape Suspect
The Phnom Penh Post: March 21, 2011
Article written by Cheang Sokha
"Thailand to Extradite UK Rape Suspect"
Thailand has reportedly ordered the extradition of a British man wanted in Cambodia on charges of sexually assaulting two underage girls.
David Fletcher, 65, fled the Kingdom last year after the British tabloid The Sunday Mirror alleged that he was using a charity he had founded, the Rubbish Dump project, to gain access to young girls at the Stung Meanchey dump site in Phnom Penh. He was arrested in Thailand in June on immigration charges, and in August, the Cambodian Government announced that it was filing an extradition request to have Fletcher returned to face charges of raping a minor.
A court in Thailand ordered Fletcher’s extradition on Friday, according to the Bangkok Post. Fletcher reportedly asserted his innocence at the hearing, telling the court that the charges against him in Cambodia had been fabricated because “he had been in conflict with a group of influential people in Phnom Penh since he did not cooperate with them in a money-laundering scam”, the Bangkok Post stated.
Samleang Seila, director of the child rights group Action Pour Les Enfants, said Fletcher was set to stand trial at Phnom Penh Municipal Court on March 31 for allegedly raping two underage girls. Cambodian and Thai officials are still in the process of arranging Fletcher’s return, Samleang Seila said.
Fletcher was also convicted on child sex charges in the United Kingdom in 1997. Following the publication of the Sunday Mirror article last year, he denied the allegations against him and accused the media of exploiting his past.
“I made a mistake of having an affair with a girl a few months under age,” Fletcher said in an email. “The gutter press then as now took it out of context for greater circulation.”
Fletcher added that he had “paid his dues” for his mistakes and denied committing any crimes in Cambodia. “As for using the dump to get access to girls, absolutely not,” he said.
Officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Interior could not be reached for comment yesterday.