by Steven Ertelt
November 25, 2005
Kampot, Cambodia (LifeNews.com) — A California man who lives in Cambodia and is running into trouble with officials in the Asian nation for promoting it as a place for assisted suicides defended himself after appearing in court.
”I am an old man in a small town in Cambodia. I don’t want to cause any trouble for anybody. But I do have my own beliefs which, if I can, I will tell people about,” Roger Graham, 57, told Reuters after appearing in court in Kampot.
Graham runs an Internet coffee shop in the seaside town and appeared in court to respond to a lawsuit filed against him by the country’s government, which has no laws against assisted suicide but doesn’t want to be seen as promoting it.
Kampot’s provincial governor Puth Chandarith filed suit over Graham’s web site that encourages people to come from across the world to Cambodia to kill themselves. At least one person, a British woman, took him up on the invitation.
”If they want to throw me out of the country, they can. All I want to do is to run a little cafe and live the rest of my life in peace. I intend to die here,” he said.
Graham’s web site closed down after news broke about ti, but he’s since reopened it and claims half a million people have visited it thanks to international news stories. He told Reuters, just 1,600 had visited it the month before.
”Saying euthanasia harms Cambodia’s tourism does not make sense. Around 450,000 visitors have looked at my Web Site and some of those will come here,” he told Reuters, his face elated.
Sally Spring of Penn, England, says her sister Kim Walton found Graham’s web site after searching the Internet following the stressful breakup of a relationship.
Distraught, Walton was enticed by Graham’s touting of assisted suicide in Cambodia and made arrangements to travel there.
Walton, a 46 year-old mortgage advisor who had divorced more than 20 years ago, sent an email to Graham with the subject, "Death" and two exchanged email correspondence afterwards. A week later, she left her home and made the 6,000 mile trip to Kampot, according to the London Telegraph newspaper.
Several days after her arrival, she left a suicide note and overdosed on drugs and alcohol in a cheap hotel.
Spring is convinced her sister would be alive today if not for Graham’s web site.
"We were very close," Spring told the Telegraph. "She couldn’t have done it to me in this country. She would never have put us in a situation where we might find her body."
Graham insists he had nothing to do with Walton’s death.