US cop on Cambodia child sex charge kills self

A San Francisco policeman charged last week with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in Cambodia committed suicide in his jail cell on Tuesday, police said.

Donald Ramirez, 50, shot himself after using a broom-handle to hook a guard's hand-gun into his cell while the officer was in the toilet, according to Keo Thea, acting chief of Phnom Penh's anti-human trafficking unit.

"He killed himself with two bullets. He shot twice into his mouth," Keo Thea said without elaborating.

Ramirez was arrested on October 26 by anti-trafficking and juvenile protection police under a court order relating to sexual abuse of a minor, a crime that carries up to 20 years in jail.

The court ordered he be held in custody pending the outcome of a full investigation into the allegations.

The US embassy confirmed that Ramirez, who had been on vacation in the southeast Asian nation, had died in custody but did not confirm his suicide or other details.

"All I can confirm is that Donald died in police custody and Cambodia's police are continuing the investigation," embassy spokesman Jeff J. Daigle said.

Deeply impoverished Cambodia has a reputation as a haven for foreign pedophiles, although increased efforts in the last year by police and non-governmental organizations have led to a string of arrests and convictions.

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