Cambodian police arrest Australian man for abusing boys

Police said Thursday they have arrested an Australian man suspected of sexually abusing Cambodian boys. Damien Walker, 26, of Melbourne, was arrested Tuesday on a tip from a child rights group that spent nearly two weeks investigating his alleged involvement with boys, said municipal anti-trafficking police officer Keo Thea. Police stopped Walker on a street in the capital, Phnom Penh, on Tuesday and then questioned him, searched his apartment in the city and found several pictures of naked boys stored in his computer, Keo Thea said. Walker was arrested on charges of debauchery, a Cambodian legal term for sex acts involving minors, punishable up to 20 years in prison. Walker was taken to court Thursday to face formal charges. But Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutor Nget Saraph said he did not charge him because Walker did not have legal representation with him. He was still in police custody and was expected to face formal charges in court Friday, the prosecutor said.

Walker declined to speak to reporters after he emerged from court Thursday.

Keo Thea cited the boys as saying that Walker, a former English teacher at a private Phnom Penh school, engaged in sex with them several times and paid them US$5 (Ђ4) to US$10 (Ђ8) each time.

France-based child rights advocacy group Action Pour Les Enfants told police Walker was behaving suspiciously, said the group's director, Beatrice Magnier. She said the group had investigated Walker for two weeks. I.L.

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