Appeal Court Hears Double Rape-Murder Case From 2009

The Court of Appeal on Thursday heard the case of four men acquitted of the brutal rape and murder of two young girls in Pursat province in 2009.

In January 2009, the mutilated bodies of cousins Nai Vann, 11, and Phal Sophoeun, 14, were found hanging from a tree in Krakor district’s Svay Sar commune, leading to the March arrest of four men, who were acquitted of premeditated murder by the Pursat Provincial Court in October 2010. The victims had both legs broken and one had her eyes gouged out.

On Thursday, Sem Douch, 43, and Ham Sophea, 32, stood before Appeal Court presiding Judge Pak Chansambor and professed their innocence, while Touch Run, 22, and Douch Nith, 16, were tried in absentia.

“On [the day of the girls’ murder], I was looking for my buffalo with my wife. We did not meet with the victims and I did not know they had been killed,” Mr. Douch said.

Mr. Sophea also claimed to have been occupied on the day that Nai Vann and Phal Sophoeun went missing.

“I did not commit the crime because while it was happening, I was going to cut logs in a place far away from the murder scene,” he said, maintaining his innocence even after Judge Chansambor said that witnesses placed Mr. Sophea at a sugar cane plantation near the scene on the day of the murder.

A verdict is due October 31.

In a separate case, 37-year-old Khleung Sun on Thursday confessed to the rape and murder of a 13-year-old girl whose body was found Tuesday in a canal in Battambang province, according to Chet Vanny, Battambang provincial deputy police chief.

“The suspect admitted that he took a rock to hit the girl in the head and stabbed her five times with a knife because he was af­raid the she would tell someone,” Mr. Vanny said.

The girl had been tending her family’s cattle about 6 km from her home when Mr. Khleung attacked her.

“We will bring the suspect to the Provincial Court to face charges [Friday],” Mr. Vanny said

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