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Friday, June 29, 2007

Australian cop to face drug charge and other crimes

A RUNAWAY former Victorian detective accused of armed robbery and drug trafficking while working for the National Crime Authority was extradited from Cambodia yesterday.

James Anthony McCabe was flown back to Australia under guard despite the absence of a formal extradition treaty between the two countries.

Mr McCabe, 38, faces charges in New South Wales, but has also been linked to drug trafficking allegations in Victoria.

He was accused of selling heroin to a police informer during the trial last year of Ian Ferguson, a jailed former member of the Victoria Police drug squad.

The first allegations against Mr McCabe emerged in 2004 while he was in Cambodia and about to be presented with a medal for helping to fight that country's drug war.

But by this month Cambodia decided to order him to leave the country after considering information provided to Cambodia's Prime Minister by the NSW Police Integrity Commission.

He was arrested in Phnom Penh a week ago.

Mr McCabe is believed to have a wife and child in Cambodia, where he has been working in the security industry.

Two PIC investigators went to Phnom Penh this week to escort Mr McCabe to Australia.

He was remanded in custody in Sydney yesterday and is due to apply for bail next week.

Mr McCabe resigned from the Victoria Police as a senior detective in 2004 after 15 years' service.

He was seconded to the NCA and the Australian Crime Commission between 1999 and 2003.

Mr McCabe was implicated during PIC hearings by a NSW detective who admitted stealing ecstasy, amphetamines and cannabis during phony arrests of drug dealers.

Det-Sgt Samuel John Foster, who since pleaded guilty to criminal charges and is awaiting sentencing, told the commission that NCA and ACC cars were used in the rip-offs, and on one occasion an NCA firearm was used.

Mr McCabe admitted during one PIC hearing he had been involved in a $36,000 drug rip-off while working for the NCA.

But he denied holding a gun to a drug dealer's head while pretending to arrest him in another rip-off where 1kg of amphetamines worth $120,000 was stolen.
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ADB helps wire Northwest Cambodia

Manila, Philippines - A major electricity shortage in northwest Cambodia, including around the tourism hub of Siem Reap, is being fixed with the help of an $8 million loan from the Asian Development Bank to build power lines that will import electricity from neighboring Thailand.

The development will be a boost for the regional economy, not just in tourism but also in agriculture, mining and manufacturing. As demand for power grows, it will also reduce emissions as businesses will not have to invest in new diesel-powered electrical generators.

“This will give the region access to cheaper electricity and a reliable supply,” said Tomas A. Norton de Matos, a Senior Structured Finance Specialist with ADB. “It is also promoting regional cooperation because the electricity will be supplied by Thailand. We worked closely with ThaiExim Bank to enable this project, which also includes trade in Thai equipment and services, to proceed.”

ADB’s Board of Directors agreed on June 27 2007 to loan the money to the (Cambodia) Power Transmission Lines Co. Ltd, a private Cambodian company. The high-voltage grid lines will be the first to be privately owned in the Greater Mekong Subregion. It is the first ADB private sector infrastructure project in Cambodia.

“We are pleased to be investing in Cambodia’s critical transmission infrastructure and to have worked closely with Cambodian and Thailand authorities, and all our partners, in this respect,” said Ly Say Khieng, Chairman and CEO of the company.

Northwest Cambodia, like the rest of the country, suffers from insufficient and unreliable power. There is no national grid and electricity is generated almost exclusively by small diesel plants that generate emissions. This hinders Cambodia’s ability to attract investment and promote sustainable economic activities, which are critical to reducing poverty.

Electricity in Cambodia is among the most expensive in the region because of the disaggregated and isolated small-scale systems.

Siem Reap is home to the famed Angkor Wat temples and is an important and growing tourism center. Many hotels in the area rely on their own power generators. There are similar power shortages in neighboring Battambang, an important agricultural center, and Banteay Meanchey, which supports manufacturing and trading activities.

The 115kV power lines will connect with Thailand’s national grid at the border. They will then run about 221 kilometers mainly alongside National Road 5 and National Road 6 to Siem Reap and Battambang. In addition to connecting the major towns, the new lines will provide opportunities to wire rural communities along the route for electricity.

Work on the project has already started and the first section to Siem Reap is expected to be completed this month or next. The second section to Battambang is scheduled to be completed a couple of months later.

ADB’s $8 million loan will go toward the estimated $32 million total project cost. The balance of funding is being provided through equity, as well as loans from the Export-Import Bank of Thailand and local Cambodian banks.
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Briton cleared of child sex abuse in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - A Cambodian court cleared a 42-year-old Briton on Friday of sexually abusing two boys aged 12 and 14 after they withdrew their allegations against him.

Paul Ian Bower, who was working as an English teacher in the impoverished southeast Asian nation, was cleared of all charges after the two boys told the court Bower "did not do anything".

Child sex in Cambodia, which is trying hard to rid itself of its reputation as a haven for paedophiles and perverts, carries a jail term of between 10 and 20 years.

Bower was arrested in January at his rented Phnom Penh home and had to spend six months in detention while investigating judges probed the charges. At Friday's hearing, he appeared to be shivering and in poor health.

On being cleared, he said: "Justice is done".
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Unesco delays Preah Vihear heritage listing

The UN cultural watchdog has delayed a decision on whether to add the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple to the World Heritage list for another year, a Thai official said yesterday. The decision was made at a meeting of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) World Heritage Committee in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The Cambodian government had applied for the second time to have the temple, located on the Thai-Cambodian border, classified as a World Heritage Site. The first application was made three years ago.

The heritage committee prefered that Thailand and Cambodia apply together to register the site next year, Foreign Ministry spokesman Tharit Charungvat said.

Unesco simply wanted Thailand and Cambodia to settle certain issues and together table the registration to its meeting next year.

''Thailand does not oppose the registration of Preah Vihear on Unesco's list, Mr Tharit said.

''We agree in principle that the temple be named a World Heritage Site.''

The two countries did differ on how it should be made a heritage site.

Previously, the National Committee on the Convention for the Protection of World Culture and Natural Heritage expressed concern over Cambodia's lobbying of Unesco without Thailand's participation.

The committee said consideration should be given to the whole site, not just the part of it on Cambodian soil. The entrance to Preah Vihear is in Si Sa Ket province, right on the border with Cambodia.

The location was the cause of a long-standing dispute over the site's ownership until 1962, when the International Court of Justice ruled that the temple belonged to Cambodia.

Mr Tharit dismissed reports of a move to stir up nationalistic sentiment in Cambodia that might end in a new round of anti-Thai riots.

Both sides ''have learned a lesson'' from the 2003 riots in which Thai interests in Phnom Penh were looted and burned down.
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Vietnam to build rail to Cambodia, Laos

Vietnam is planning to invest US$527.5 million in building two railways that will link the country with Cambodia and Laos, an industry official said Wednesday.

The projects are part of a scheme to construct trans-Asia railway networks connecting Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) member countries, reported the Vietnam Railway Department.

No details on when the railways would be constructed were given.

An official with Vietnam Railways Corp. said the first railway will link Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh, and the second railway will link Quang Binh province in central Vietnam to Savanakhet city in central Laos.

The 130 km, VND3.91 trillion ($280.5 million) Sai Gon-Loc Ninh route to Cambodia will be built by the Vietnam Railway Department, the China Mechanical Equipment Import Export Corporation and the China Railway Construction Corporation.

The other 120 km line linking Vung Ang with Mu Gia in the central Ha Tinh province to Laos requires investment of over VND4.52 trillion ($247 million).

The railways are expected to promote trade and transport cooperation among Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos as well as between the whole Indochina region and the rest of Asean and China.
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Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia join forces to develop tourism

VietNamNet Bridge – Cambodia's Siem Reap and the Lao provinces of Luang Prabang and Champasak will sign an agreement on tourism cooperation with central Vietnam's Quang Nam Province.

Dinh Hai, director of Quang Nam's Department of Tourism, told the Daily that the tourism authorities of Siem Reap, Luang Prabang, Champasak and Quang Nam would sign the deal on the sidelines of a tourism festival.

The four-day Quang Nam - Heritage Road Festival 2007 kicked off on Wednesday in the World Heritage-listed town of Hoi An.

The four provinces, Hai said, will jointly market tourism products and promote their World Heritage sites. "We have special tourist attractions - World Heritage sites, so we want to join hands to introduce them to attract tourists," he said.

The UNESCO-recognized World Heritage sites are Hoi An and My Son in Quang Nam, Luang Prabang and Wat Phou in Luang Prabang, and Angkor Wat in Siem Reap.

These provinces will create favorable conditions for travel firms to meet together, arrange familiarization trips and carry out other activities, Hai said.

Earlier, his department had signed a similar deal with the tourism authority of Champasak.

Hai said tens of thousands of tourists, mostly locals, were expected to visit the Quang Nam - Heritage Road Festival.

"June is the low season for the province's tourism sector with an average room occupancy rate of 40% but hotels in the province have just reported occupancy of 70-80%," he said.
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AIDS-infected people in Cambodia decreases half in 2006: official

Cambodia gained 70,000 AIDS- infected people in 2006, which decreased by half from the figure in 2003, a senior health official said on Thursday.

Cambodia is very proud of this result, said Mom Bun Heng, secretary of State of the Cambodian Ministry of Health, while addressing an AIDS seminar in Phnom Penh.

The Cambodian government could now provide the delaying-life medicine for 20,000 AIDS-infected people, including 2,000 children, he said.

The government's budget for AIDS prevention in 2007 stands two times higher than 2006, while the disease is spreading from urban areas to rural areas.

Cambodia is one of the worst-hit countries in the region in the field of AIDS spread. In 1997, its infection rate ran at 3.3 percent of its population.

Source: Xinhua
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