The governor of a Cambodian province is suing an American Internet cafe owner over a Web site that promotes a sleepy corner of the war-scarred southeast Asian nation as an ideal place for people who want to kill themselves. Kampot governor Puth Chandarith said he had filed a suit against Californian Roger Graham for disseminating false information and defaming the province on his Web sites, www.euthanasiaincambodia.com and www.asian-hearts.com.
"A lot of foreigners were scared to stay here when they learned about the Web Site saying Kampot was a good place to commit suicide with no pain," he told Reuters.
He said the Cambodian government had received around 50 complaints from foreigners about the Web site, which relatives of a 47-year-old British woman who recently committed suicide in Kampot believe influenced her decision.
Still emerging from decades of war, including the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s in which 1.7 million people died, Cambodia has no laws governing euthanasia, and diplomats say it does not rank as a high priority in one of Asia's poorest nations.
Both Web sites have been taken offline since the controversy erupted, although they still carry the banner: "You're going to die anyway, so why not in Cambodia?"
Graham, who owns the Blue Mountain Coffee and Internet Cafe in Kampot, a quiet coastal backwater, said he could not understand why people were making such a fuss.
"It was a nice quiet little Web site," he told the Cambodia Daily. "Now it's blown into this circus and it's a bit much for me."