The Phnom Penh Municipal Court will issue an arrest warrant for a police officer accused of raping a 19-year-old woman only when it is confirmed that the officer in question has been fired by the Interior Ministry for his involvement in the crime, Deputy Prosecutor Sok Roeun said yesterday.
In a Jan 4 letter to the Council of Ministers, the Interior Ministry alleges that police officer Uong Dara, 43, did in fact rape the victim and had been stripped of his rank and position in December. The letter also alleges that the victim stopped her pursuit of criminal charges against the officer after he paid her $250.
Mr Roeun said yesterday that he had not yet seen the Interior Ministry letter but would look for it today.
“If the Interior Ministry fired him I will process his case,” Mr Roeun said, explaining that he would then issue a warrant for Mr Dara’s arrest.
Police briefly detained Mr Dara on Oct 31 for allegedly raping the 19-year-old girl the day before in a Meanchey district karaoke parlor along with security guard Chan Narith, 50, who allegedly held the girl during the attack and also tried but failed to rape the teenager.
Senior police officials strenuously defended Mr Dara in the weeks after the rape and now both suspects have since gone missing. Since the attack, both the police and the municipal court have been at odds over who was responsible for the suspects and the issuing of charges.
According to a copy of the letter to the Council of Ministers, the “Ministry of Interior issued an announcement to punish Uong Dara by stripping him of his role and rank and firing him from the national police framework through announcement No 4002…dated Dec 17.”
Mr Roeun reiterated yesterday that the court had not yet held a hearing in the rape case because Mr Dara has not been brought to the court by police.
Court officials have repeatedly said that they have been waiting on the police to deliver Mr Dara.
Municipal police chief Touch Naruth could not be reached for comment yesterday. He has previously claimed, however, that he sent both suspects to the court, where they were released on bail – a claim the court denies. The city’s police chief also said previously that the attack on the 19-year-old woman could not be called rape because, he alleged, she was not a virgin at the time of the attack.
Hok Vanna, who identified himself as a friend of Mr Dara, said yesterday that the former police officer is now living in Koh Kong province and working for an NGO.
“He is ashamed of his acts and has escaped from his friends,” Mr Vanna said.