Child-Rape Investigation Ongoing, Prosecutor Says

A day after Preah Sihanouk Prov­incial Court released a provincial police officer arrested for the al­leged rape of a mentally disabled 11-year-old girl, the provincial prosecutor said yesterday that an investigation would continue.

On Monday, provincial military police arrested police officer Kong Sophat on suspicion of raping the daughter of his friend while she was alone at his home.

But Mr Sophat was released Wednesday due to what the prosecutor characterized as a lack of evidence. According to police, a medical examination showed that the girl had been raped, and she alleg­edly identified Mr Sophat as the perpetrator.

Keo Sophal, deputy provincial military police chief, said he had stopped investigating the rape after submitting investigative results that identified Mr Sophat as the culprit.

“It is out of my duty now. It is the court’s job now. My work is limited, and I will investigate if the court tells me to do so,” he said. “I have not received any order from the court yet, so I have not done anything.”

Provincial prosecutor Bou Bun­hang said the case would be investigated, though he declined to give details.

On Wednesday, he defended his decision to release the suspect, citing the fact that the victim did not know when the rape occurred and that the medical examination had shown the rape did not occur recently.

He also said the girl’s statement was not enough to keep Mr Sophat in custody.

“We cannot say that he raped, since we haven’t found that he raped the girl. You cannot say that he is a rapist,” Mr Bunhang said yesterday. “I am working on the case.”

Cheap Sotheary, the provincial coordinator for human rights group Adhoc, said she understood the reason for the release, but that whoever raped the girl must be brought to justice.

She also said that Mr Bunhang had told her that he had not decided whether to continue with the investigation.

“Concerning this issue, the prosecutor has not decided whether to investigate or throw away the case. He told me that it is still under his consideration,” she said. “The prosecutor should conduct an investigation on the case.”

Yesterday, the victim’s father said he believed Mr Sophat was the on­ly person who could have committed the rape.

“He is the only one who is very close to my daughter,” he said. “This is injustice.”



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