Three policemen accused of raping a 12-year-old girl in November have been summoned for questioning Feb 21, though the whereabouts of the suspects and the victim are unknown, a judge in Siem Reap province said Wednesday.
Investigating judge Sous La said that he summoned the three officers, but believes it unlikely that the suspects—who have been on the run since December—will appear.
“If the officers do not show up, we can issue an arrest warrant because of the evidence from the police and prosecutor,” he said, noting that he issued the summons as a matter of court procedure.
Human rights workers have, for weeks, criticized the glacial pace at which the court has investigated the controversial rape case.
The victim, who is mentally impaired, disappeared from home Jan 10 and has not been seen since, said Yin Hak Ley, a Licadho investigator in Siem Reap.
“We still have hope that we will find the girl,” he said, though he expressed concern for her safety.
Licadho has posted the girl’s photo in its 12 offices throughout the country to assist the search effort, said Nhov Sinean, the Licadho counselor for the victim.
Visits to places she used to frequent with her friends have yielded no clues, he said. “None of her friends…have any idea where the girl is now,” he added.
The victim’s family has not reported the disappearance to the police, as they fear involving the police force following the rape complaint against three of its officers, said a relative of the missing girl.
“We are worried about her,” a relative said, speaking on condition of anonymity, noting that his relatives in Siem Reap have been searching for the girl ever since she disappeared. “Is she okay or not? I do not know,” the relative added.
Lim Buntheng, chief of police in Kok Chak commune where two of the suspected officers were based, said he was busy and could not speak at length to a reporter.
“I did not get any summons from the court,” he said.
Suos La said the court has waited for the victim to return, and has asked the family to notify him if she appears.