A man who escaped from the Kampot Provincial Court after being provisionally charged with the aggravated rape of a 15-year-old girl a week ago remained at large on Sunday, according to police, who suspect he is hiding out at a relative’s house in Stung Treng province.
According to Poa Samoeun, chief of the Kampot provincial police’s serious crimes bureau, his officers received information that 27-year-old construction worker Sith Saren had fled to the border province.
“We studied and we knew that [he] has a relative there,” Mr. Samoeun said, adding that his officers were cooperating with police in Stung Treng, who went to the location of the suspected hideout “a few days ago,” only to find nobody at home.
“I think maybe they went to go pick up cassava or something,” he said, declining to give the exact location of the house.
Nop Chanpheap, deputy police chief in Kampot’s Toek Chhou district, said that Mr. Saren had not returned to his home there and that police were still searching the area.
Stung Treng provincial police chief Mao Dara said he was not aware of the case.
The alleged victim’s father, a 41-year-old farmer, said he was concerned for his family’s safety and hoped police would find the suspect soon.
“We are still worried, because we are afraid that he is holding a grudge and will try to retaliate against us,” he said, adding that he appealed to rights group Licadho last Wednesday for further help.
The man’s daughter was riding her bicycle along a dirt road on August 26 when Mr. Saren, who was riding his motorbike in the opposite direction, allegedly blocked her path, dragged her into a forest and assaulted her.
Kampot provincial police chief Mao Chanmathurith said So Phen, the deputy serious crimes bureau chief who has been blamed for Mr. Saren’s escape, has been suspended from his position and confined to administrative work pending a proposed demotion.