Court Hears Case of Gang Rape and Murder

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday heard the case of three men charged with raping and murdering a 35-year-old woman in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district in April.

Only one of the men, 42-year-old So Sam Oeun, appeared at court Thursday as the others—Nuon Neth, 21, and Hach Mean, 33—escaped and are being tried in absentia for the rape and murder of Oeun Eam.

“You have been charged with causing the death of the victim under aggravating circumstances and will now face trial,” said presiding Judge Kor Vandy.

In court, Mr. Sam Oeun said that he did not know who had killed Oeun Eam, but that he and the two other suspects had attended a party at the victim’s house and were drunk the night she was killed. At 6 a.m. the next morning, he said he looked through a window at the victim’s house and saw her lying under the bed with her body covered by a mat.

“I told the neighbors and the victim’s sister that I had seen Ms. Eam lying under her bed and her throat was cut…but I reject all the charges that accuse me of raping and murdering Ms. Eam—I do not know who killed her,” he said.

He added that he and the other suspects knew the victim because they lived close by but he said that one of the escaped suspects, Mr. Mean, had been in love with her.

Mr. Sam Oeun’s lawyer, Neang Hai, said that the court had no evidence to prove his client was involved in the crime.

The men face 10 to 30 years in jail if found guilty.

A verdict is due to be delivered on November 8.

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