Already two years on the run from an arrest warrant over the rape of a minor, a 29-year-old construction worker allegedly raped an 8-year-old girl living in his commune in Phnom Penh on Saturday and once again escaped capture, according to an official.
Meas Sophanet, 29, was convicted of raping a minor in 2014. On Saturday, police say, he abducted and raped a girl who was walking near her home in Chbar Ampov district’s Niroth commune.
“She went to look for her cousin to call him home,” deputy district police chief Mao Soeut said on Sunday, adding that the cousin ignored her. “The incident happened behind another villager’s house at about 5 p.m. when the girl was walking home alone.”
“He dragged her by her arms—while covering her mouth—into a banana farm,” Mr. Soeut said. “Then he stripped off her clothes and raped her.”
The suspect then told the girl to get dressed and go home, threatening to kill her if she told anyone about the incident, he said.
District police were alerted to the case at about 8:30 p.m. by the victim’s parents and arrived at their house before 9 p.m., he added, but by then the suspect had already fled.
“We already clearly know his identity, as he lives in the same village,” Mr. Soeut said, adding that a young neighbor had seen the victim being dragged away and was able to identify the suspect.
The deputy district police chief said that although police had been searching for the suspect for two years, commune authorities had not been helpful.
“We heard that he occasionally snuck into his house for a short time or half a day,” he said, adding that he had met with the commune chief and his deputy to secure their cooperation in finding the suspect, as they lived in the same village as his family.
Mr. Soeut said he was unaware of the details of the previous rape case, referring questions to the commune police chief, who declined to speak with a reporter.