Kenneth Nguyen - August 7, 2006
SCHAPELLE Corby is not the only prisoner inching closer to home.
An Australian schoolboy sentenced to 13 years in a Cambodian jail
at the age of 16 is a step closer to a return, after the Cambodian
Government notified Canberra of its willingness for a
Sydney teenager Gordon Vuong, now 17, is housed in a squalid
cell in Phnom Penh's Prey Sar prison, having been convicted for
attempting to smuggle 2.1 kilograms of heroin to Australia in
January last year.
Family and friends of the Christian Brothers, Lewisham, student
claim he was coerced into the drug run by two men a
47-year-old Cambodian man and a 25-year-old Cambodian-born
Australian who were arrested along with him.
A spokesman for Justice Minister Chris Ellison confirmed receipt
of the notification from the Cambodian Government.
"Such a treaty will apply to all Australians imprisoned in
Cambodia, including those who were sentenced before the treaty came
into effect," he told The Age.
Finalisation of the treaty and Vuong's return to Australia could
still be years away.
In the meantime, campaigners for him hope that an appeal for a
reduced sentence could be successful. The Foreign Affairs
Department is pushing for a hearing date.
Relations between Cambodia and Australia were complicated this
year after the Howard Government refused to extradite an Australian
schoolteacher convicted of pedophilia in Cambodia.