Cousins of Victim Arrested in Pursat Rape-Murder

Pursat provincial police said yesterday they had arrested two brothers over their alleged involvement in the rape, robbery and murder of their 6-year-old cousin, whose body was found in Phnom Kravanh district on Saturday.

Kuy Nhoeun, chief of the Pursat provincial minor crimes police, said he arrested Chan Seiha, 20, and Chan Chantha, 18, at a market in Thailand just over the border from Battambang province’s Kamrieng district on Sunday. The men had crossed into Thailand ten minutes before they were arrested at 2:30 pm, he added.

According to Mr Nhoeun, the victim, 6-year-old Tit Nith, died from a broken neck and had suffered injuries consistent with rape. Ms Nith had gone missing after playing with other children in a flooded field on Friday afternoon.             Villagers found her body in bushes near her uncle’s house in Leach commune’s Bak Trakuon village at about 4 pm on Saturday.

Commune police chief Pork Vanna said Sunday that jewelry with a value of more than $100 had been taken from her body.

Mr Seiha admitted to taking the girl’s jewelry, said Mr Nhoeun, but denied raping and murdering her.

“Chan Seiha said Tit Nith was drowned in floodwater and he plucked the girl out of water,” Mr Nhoeun said.

Mr Nhoeun said that at present police were focusing their investigation on Mr Seiha. “But we also caught Chan Chantha for further investigation,” he said.

Police plan to send both men to court today, but expect that Mr Chantha may be released after questioning.

Chan Krisna Sawada, head of rights group Adhoc’s Women’s and Children’s Rights Program, said yesterday that Adhoc had recorded 28 rape-murder cases in the first eight months of this year. In a report last month, the Interior Ministry claimed to have recorded only 3 cases between January and June. The Cambodia Daily has reported 16 rape-murder cases and 9 arrests in 2010.

Ms Krisna Sawada said weak law enforcement meant victims’ families were likely to accept financial compensation for rape, which helped to foster a climate of impunity.

“If the family…do not believe in fair trials and a fair justice system they would rather accept compensation than go to court.”


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