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Arrested American to first face rape charges here

An American national arrested in Phnom Penh on Monday on rape charges filed in the US will face new charges in Cambodian courts related to his alleged sexual assault of three underage girls at an orphanage he ran, local authorities said yesterday.

Major General Pol Pithey, chief of the Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Department of the Ministry of Interior, said suspect Daniel Stephen Johnson, 35, director of the Hope Transitions organisation, would not be extradited to the US until he had been tried in a Cambodian court and served any resulting sentence.

“Now we have found [via confession] that this American man was involved in sexually abusing children, and raped three underage Cambodian girls in Cambodia,” Pithey said. “He was also involved in establishing his Hope Transitions organisation without authorisation from the government or Ministry of Interior.

“We are still questioning him about these four cases, and we will also invite the three victims, who now are staying in his centre, to assist us with our inquiries,” he said.

The alleged victims were 13 to 15 years old.

“According to Cambodian laws, this American man now will not be sent to the United States as planned,” Pithey continued. “He must face his charges, must be convicted by a Cambodian court and serve his sentences in Cambodia first … before he is extradited to face his criminal cases in his own country.”

Johnson is slated to be sent to court for official charges by the end of the week, Pithey added.

According to a senior police official at the Ministry of Interior, who asked not to be named, a US Federal Bureau of Investigation report given to the National Police said Johnson is wanted in the US in connection with five different cases of underage rape, and was laying low in Cambodia.

The US embassy declined to comment on the case yesterday, saying it is generally the policy of the FBI office in Cambodia not to comment on ongoing investigations.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STUART WHITE

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