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Don Hancock died on Tuesday in Surabaya, where he was director of studies of the Indonesia Australia Language Foundation. He was found in a hotel room along with a quantity of pills. His door was locked from the inside.
Another employee of the foundation, Peter Smith, was arrested in Jakarta this month for allegedly molesting up to 50 boys and producing child pornography.
The affair looms as a diplomatic embarrassment. Australian officials were trying to distance themselves from the foundation yesterday.
The Indonesian police are widening their investigation into the alleged pedophile ring. Australian police are also believed to be examining the allegations.
The foundation’s board, which includes two senior Australian public servants, has demanded chief executive Geoffrey Crewes ensure more thorough background checks are made on employees. Mr Crewes flew to Surabaya yesterday, where he refused to answer questions.
Investigators believe Smith was part of a pedophile ring involving several foreigners abusing young Indonesians and distributing child porn. Smith, formerly known as Ellis Eyre, was convicted in 1994 for molesting Aboriginal pupils at the Northern Territory school where he taught.
After his release, Eyre changed his name, was issued with a new passport and moved to Indonesia. A Foreign Affairs spokesman said the passport was issued because police had not alerted the department to the original offence.
Some of Smith’s victims said a second Australian man called “Don” had also abused them. Initially police believed they were referring to Donald Storen, who was arrested on child molestation charges in Lombok last month.
However, Indonesian police now suspect that “Don” lived in Surabaya and was Mr Hancock.
Smith was an English language teacher for the foundation and had worked in Surabaya as well as Jakarta.
Sources said Mr Hancock, 55, from Sydney, had not died of natural causes. He had not been interviewed by police before his death.
Indonesian police last night said they had received a fax from Mr Hancock’s family granting permission for an autopsy to determine the cause of death. They also said they were examining Mr Hancock’s phone records for contacts with Mr Smith.
The charity group that took several street children to police with complaints about Smith said they were told five foreigners were part of the network.