The brothers, 11 and 9 years old, played at their house as their 8-year-old friend peeked through the gate of their home in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey District before he headed off to school at lunchtime on Wednesday .
Across town, a 5-year-old girl was being examined at Phnom Penh Municipal Hospital for abdominal pain—the result of an alleged rape by the three boys on the first day of Khmer New Year holiday last month.
Meanchey District Police Chief Em Lim Hel said Tuesday that the boys confessed to the rape after they were arrested Thursday.
The boys were scheduled to appear in the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday. But the mother of the two brothers, whose name was withheld to protect the identities of her sons, said on Wednesday she had not received a court summons.
The boys denied the rape allegations on Wednesday, saying they only held the 5-year-old down and laid on top of her.
“I only told police that I lay over the girl’s body, but I did not rape her,” said the 11-year-old suspect at his home. The 8-year-old boy said he felt pleased when he took his turn to lay on the girl.
“The other boys laughed,” he said Wednesday. “So I felt happy.”
The brothers had each taken one of the girl’s arms and held her down. It was repeated five times as the boys took turns “holding” her, he said. One of the brothers wanted to copy the actors in a pornographic video he had watched at his house, he added.
Maintaining her sons’ innocence on Wednesday, their mother said she had tried to negotiate compensation with the girl’s family, who are demanding $500 from each boy.
“I tried to pay $50 many times, but they asked for too much money,” she said.
Dr San Channa, of the Phnom Penh Municipal Hospital, and an assisting nurse who declined to be named, said Wednesday they believed that the girl had been raped.
But the hospital’s deputy director, Dr Lek Se, said by telephone Wednesday that a review examination of the case revealed the girl had not been raped.
An aunt of the girl, who lives in the house next door to the two brothers, said Wednesday that the attack was discovered after the young girl complained of stomach pains.
After a medical examination at the end of April, it was discovered the child had injuries to her genital area, said the aunt, who asked not to be named to preserve the family’s dignity.
Adults accused of rape face 15 to 20 years in prison, but those under 13 years old face none, said Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of Cambodian Defenders Project.
Children raping children is a crime with only victims, Sok Sam Oeun said.
“The Ministry of Justice and other judges perceive…all are victims in this case, even the rapists—because they are so young,” he said Wednesday.
“The minor, especially under 13, they do not know what it is to rape,” he added.
San Channa, a vice director of the Women’s Disease Department, said she has noticed that children involved in rapes are getting younger and younger.
Child criminals in Cambodia are often returned to their families, which are ordered to pay compensation to the victims, Sok Sam Oeun said.
Cambodia has no rehabilitation centers for child offenders, he added.