9 Men Arrested In Separate Gang Rapes

Six men have been arrested for allegedly gang-raping a 23-year-old girl in Battambang province’s Mong Russei district on Thursday and were to appear at provincial court today as police continued their search for a seventh suspect, police said yesterday.

In a separate incident, Takeo Pro­vincial Court on Friday charged three men with rape, and police were searching for three more suspects after two girls, aged 17 and 18, were allegedly gang-raped by six men for six hours in Prey Kabbas district on Jan 18, police reported yesterday.

Mong Russei district police chief Kith Heang said police believed seven men took turns raping the 23-year-old victim in a hay pile after stopping her as she walked home from a film screening in Prey Touch commune Thursday night.

Mr Heang said the victim tried to run away but two of the suspects held her arms and legs down as the other men raped her.

After the rapes took place, the victim reported the incident to police immediately, Mr Heang said, adding that four of the suspects were arrested at their homes on Thursday night, while the other two were arrested Friday morning.

“The suspects confessed that they raped the victim,” he said.

Koy Hieng, provincial anti-hu­man trafficking police chief, said the six suspects would be sent to court today.

“Police are still searching for the suspect who has escaped…because this gang rape is very cruel and it has never happened before in Battambang province,” Mr Hieng said.

Meanwhile, Chum Chhoeun, the police chief in Takeo province’s Prey Kabbas district said yesterday that three men—Noem Dul, 18, Sen Sare, 24, and a 17-year-old—were arrested Wednesday after an 18-year-old lodged a complaint alleging that six men raped her and her 17-year-old friend on Jan 18.

Provincial prosecutor Meas Sopheak said yesterday that the three men were charged with rape on Friday.

Mr Chhoeun said police were still searching for the remaining three suspects but believed they had fled their homes.

He said the gang rapes had occurred after the two girls were tricked into drinking palm wine with six men in an empty rice field in Prey Kabbas commune. He added that the men split into two groups of three and took turns raping each victim up to five times between 9 pm and 3 am, meaning each girl was raped up to 15 times.

“The [arrested] suspects confessed to have raped the victims…and threatened to kill them if the victim’s shouted or told anyone about the incident,” Mr Chhoeun said. “I think that it is a brutal case where all of the suspects have gathered to rape the victims. We want them to be punished.”

Chheng Sophors, senior investigator for the human rights group Licadho, said he hoped those guilty of committing the gang rapes would be held accountable in court and that police would not help the victims and suspects negotiate compensation in lieu of prosecution.

“Gang-rape victims go through a high amount of suffering…and would experience shock if they saw suspects released,” he said.

In an unrelated case in Battambang’s Ek Phnom district, a 14-year-old boy was charged on Friday for allegedly raping a 5-year-old girl on Wednesday, provincial prosecutor Nuon San said.

Deputy district police chief Chang Saophoan said the girl was raped after the suspect lured her to his house when she was left unattended at her family’s house in Peam Ek commune.

The Cambodia Daily has reported 20 child-rape cases this year. In 2010, police recorded nearly a 30 percent rise in the number of rapes reported nationwide.

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