Convicted Child Rapist Nabbed After Another Rape

A construction worker convicted in absentia in 2014 for raping a minor was arrested in Phnom Penh’s Chbar Ampov district on Friday night after allegedly sexually assaulting another girl earlier this month, a police official said on Sunday.

Deputy district police chief Mao Soeut said police tracked down 29-year-old Meas Sophanet in his home village in Niroth commune at about 9 p.m., arresting him six days after the latest alleged attack.

Mr. Soeut said the suspect confessed to the rape of an 8-year-old girl under police questioning.

“He said he grabbed and dragged the girl into the banana plantation. He stripped off her clothes” and raped her, he said. “She screamed because she was in pain, so he stopped and escaped.”

The victim told police that Mr. Sophanet had threatened to kill her if she told anyone about the attack.

The deputy police chief said the suspect’s telling of events was the same as the victim’s and that police were completing their report on the case and expected to send Mr. Sophanet to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court this afternoon.

According to an arrest warrant issued for Mr. Sophanet in March 2014, he was found guilty of raping another minor in his home village of Koh Norea on July 25, 2012, and sentenced in absentia to seven years in prison.

Mr. Soeut said village and commune officials had been of little help in finding Mr. Sophanet over the past two years, adding that the suspect was believed to have occasionally visited his family’s house while he was on the run.

However, Mr. Soeut said he had met with local officials after the latest attack to ensure their cooperation in catching the suspect. Though the suspect did not return to his family’s house, the search over the past week involved relatives and local officials, leading to his arrest at another house in the village, Mr. Soeut said.

“We arrested him in his village after searching for him through his relatives,” he said.

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