British orphanage founder on child sex charges in Cambodia

23rd October 2010, Comments 0 comments

The British founder of a Cambodian orphanage is facing prosecution for sexually abusing children at the home, officials said Saturday.

Nicholas Patrick Griffin is accused of abusing "many" children, both boys and girls under the age of 15, said Sun Bun Thorng of the government's anti-human trafficking department in Siem Reap, northern Cambodia.

Around 70 children housed at the orphanage, near the historic Angkor Wat temples, will be removed for their own safety, he told AFP.

The 52-year-old was arrested earlier this week and officials said they expect to uncover more cases as the investigation progresses.

Sun Bun Thorng said Griffin was the founder of Cambodia Orphan Fund, which according to its website aims to "create projects that will help Cambodian people break the poverty cycle and help themselves to a positive future".

The orphanage takes children up to the age of 18.

Griffin, who is believed to have left the UK in 2006, faced several charges of child molestation in 2008, but these were dropped due to lack of evidence, Sun Bun Thorng said.

Chheng Vanna, deputy director of social affairs in Siem Reap, said that her department helped police investigate institutional abuse at the orphanage.

"We will have to move the children because since the founder will be in detention, nobody is going to support them," she said.

Cambodia is engaged in a major drive to net foreign paedophiles as it looks to shed its image as a haven for sex criminals.

In a separate investigation another Briton, Matthew John Harland was charged with "purchasing child sex and committing indecent acts" with four girls aged from 12 to 16 in Phnom Penh, according to the victims' lawyer Peng Maneth.

She said the 36-year-old's trial was delayed on Friday after allegations emerged that he paid a bribe of 15,000 dollars to a court official.

Samleang Seila, country director of anti-paedophile group Action Pour Les Enfants, said the Harland case was the first exposure of alleged corruption in court.

Cambodia has jailed dozens of foreigners for child sex crimes since 2003 or deported them to face trial in their home countries.

© 2010 AFP

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