It been nine months since noted Canadian journalist and author Dave Walker’s body was found on the grounds of Cambodia’s Angkor Watt ample complex. His murderer s — one assumes that more than one did the killing and carted away the body — have yet to be identified, nor has a motive been determined. Walker had been working on a Khmer Rouge story, but conventional wisdom holds that he wasn’t killed as a result of looking into a tale as long in the tooth as that. The perpetrators, after all, are getting older or dead, and most of the potentially harmful data has already been aired anyway. So why was Walker killed?
There is a rumor, floating around the circle of expats that knew him, that he may have been investigating a scam involving Cambodian police and/or military officials and one or more non-governmental organization (NGO). The matter, described in a WoWasis story first introduced several years ago, involves a scam in which innocent western men are falsely accused of having sex with underage Cambodian youths of both sexes. These individuals are then shaken down by officials for an amount generally estimated to be in the $30,000 USD price range. If he refuses to pay, he is jailed and reported to his country’s embassy. Accusations are obtained through the false confessions of youths, their parents, or motorcycle taxi drivers, who are being paid directly by the perpetrators of the fraud, which would include be police, military, underworld figures and NGOs.
Walker was aware of this scam. If, in fact, he was working on this story, he wouldn’t be the first westerner to have disappeared while investigating it. A prominent hotelier in Sihanoukville, who had investigated the story several years earlier, was abruptly arrested by Cambodian authorities on a charge related to drug distribution, which may well have been concocted to facilitate his arrest. He fled the country through certain legal maneuvers and wound up in the Philippines, where he was reported to have died in 2013. His death has yet to be corroborated.
Dave Walker’s family, or those purporting to represent them, are saying little. They claim to know who the killer could be, but have been uncooperative with the media, perhaps because of general paranoia, imagined threats, or real ones.
It all remains an enigma wrapped inside a mystery, but more and more of Walker’s acquaintances are beginning to think along the lines of his being killed as a result of investigating the NGO- police-youth sex scam that remains one of Cambodia’s most dangerous, profitable, and best-kept secrets.