Busted flat by international police
THE arrest last Friday of Nick Griffin, a British social worker and founder of Siem Reap children’s NGO Cambodia Orphan Fund, was one of the more dramatic police stings in Siem Reap and set the town buzzing.
Griffin, 53, is well-known around town. He operated the Coffee Shop as a fund-raiser in the funky downtown strip, The Lane. This was briefly open on Monday morning, but then shut again.
Griffin was also a member of such organisations as ConCERT and Skal International Siem Reap.
The drama of his arrest was heightened by the covert presence in town of a team of UK investigators from the British police division, Child Exploitation and Online Protection.
Investigators had been in town for well over a week tying up loose ends and, during the Pchum Benh weekend, they began arranging for alternative care for the kids at Griffin’s orphanage. Word of their presence slowly spread through some NGO circles and tensions mounted.
Rumours about Griffin’s impending arrest had been doing the rounds earlier this year following an overseas television report which reiterated allegations against him.
It became obvious that Griffin was under investigation again, but those who spoke to him say he simply dismissed the claims.
In June, the NGO ConCERT – an umbrella group for many local organisations – removed the orphanage from its membership following unanswered concerns about investigations under way by local NGO Action Pour Les Enfants which was, as it turns out, acting in close cooperation with the British investigation.
A distraught Lidia Linde, a director of the Cambodia Orphan Fund, flew in from Spain on Saturday and, at midday on Sunday, met with Siem Reap police to make further arrangements for the welfare of the children. She said the orphanage will continue, most probably under a new name.
Best luxury hotel award
SOFITEL Angkor Phokeethra Golf and Spa Resort was named the Best Luxury Hotel in Cambodia by the Tourism Alliance Awards during the sixth International Travel Expo in Ho Chi Minh City which ran from September 30 until October 2.
The award was formally presented by the chairman of Vietnam’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. As always, the awards were co-hosted by the Vietnam Ministry of Culture, Sports & Tourism; the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City; the Ministry of Tourism Cambodia; and the Laos National Tourism Administration.