of injustice in
An Australian schoolteacher
convicted of pedophilia in
The Government cancelled the
extradition of Clint Rex Betterridge, who fled
On the same day that a Cambodian court of appeal upheld the conviction, Justice Minister Chris Ellison ordered his immediate release amid fears he would be denied natural justice, and possibly tortured, if returned to serve his 10-year term.
In a move that threatens
diplomatic relations with
Senator Ellison said the Cambodian Government had failed to respond to his request for a retrial. "This has been a long and complex matter," he said. "It has involved a conviction of an Australian for serious offences.
However, there have been circumstances particular to this case which have warranted my decision." Betterridge was convicted in absentia by a Cambodian court in January 2003 for the alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl and alleged sexual offences involving three other teenage girls. But they have since recanted their allegations.
Three days before his trial,
Betterridge -- who had been engaged to marry a local woman -- fled to
Amid a public outcry over the
incident, Betterridge was arrested in
At a hastily called appeal hearing in Phnom Penh last Friday, nine girls testified that the Cambodian Women's Crisis Centre had urged them to testify against Betterridge and his co-accused, fellow Australian Bart Lauwaert, claiming the teachers would be forced to pay them money if convicted.
But judge Saly Theara found their latest testimony, and the protests of the accused, groundless. The judge did, however, strike out orders that Lauwaert and Betterridge pay the girls and their families compensation.
Betterridge had claimed the
allegations were part of an extortion attempt and feared he would be denied
While on remand in