Six-year-old Sarey Virak Bot, who died of internal injuries Saturday caused by a series of severe beatings, had returned home with bruises after visiting his stepmother in the past, his family said Tuesday.
Seng Srey Tin, 27, admitted to police on Monday that she viciously beat her stepson in the days before he died at her home in Dangkao district.
Ms. Srey Tin, who was arrested on Sunday, is accused of torture and acts of cruelty leading to death, and remains in police custody in Dangkao district. She is due in court today.
“I trusted my wife [Ms. Srey Tin],” the boy’s father, Horn Sarey, said Tuesday as he sat crying outside the Tuol Kok district home of Kong Sina, the boy’s grandmother and primary caregiver.
“She lied to me. He had bruises in the past and she told me it was from scraping himself,” Mr. Sarey said. “I believed her because I trusted her. I never thought she’d do something like this.”
Mr. Sarey, a waiter who often spends days away from home to work events, said he regularly left his son in Ms. Srey Tin’s care when he came to visit.
“I don’t know why she didn’t love my son,” Mr. Sarey said. “I want her to be punished according to the law.”
An autopsy carried out by doctors at the Phnom Penh Municipal Referral Hospital on Sunday revealed that the boy died from ruptured organs and was likely beaten in the past, according to the Child Protection Unit, a police unit supported by the Cambodian Children’s Fund.
According to district police, Ms. Srey Tin beat her stepson with a piece of wood and kicked him to the floor before stomping on him.
Ms. Sina, the grandmother, said authorities were never notified of previous signs of abuse, which she also noticed, because no one believed Ms. Srey Tin was capable of such cruelty.
“We never told authorities because we never thought she’d do something like that,” she said.