The Svay Rieng Provincial Court yesterday charged and detained a man who had attempted to bury his newborn daughter alive on Wednesday, police said.
The man, 29-year-old Kung Sokthy, was charged with aggravated attempted murder, which carries a prison sentence of at least 15 years, according to chief provincial prosecutor Hing Bunchea.
“A deputy prosecutor charged him with attempted murder with aggravating circumstances,” Mr. Bunchea said. “This was a cruel criminal act.”
Mr. Sokthy, a high-school teacher from Prey Veng province, is accused of burying the baby the same day she was born in Svay Rieng City because she had a cleft lip.
Prak Chut, deputy city police chief, said police believe the father worked together with two accomplices—his older sister and a tuk-tuk driver—to bury the girl on the grounds of a local pagoda. They are working on issuing arrest warrants for the pair, who are still at large.
“This is the first case in which a father has been so cruel as to bury a live baby because he didn’t like the girl’s cleft lip,” Mr. Chut added.
The father reportedly hired the tuk-tuk driver to bury the girl, according to Kheut Phally, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, who has been investigating the case.
“A boy at the pagoda who witnessed the crime reported that the father was on a tuk-tuk while the tuk-tuk driver grabbed a hoe from the pagoda boy, then dug a hole to bury the baby,” she said.
The newborn was entirely wrapped up in blankets and scarves and didn’t make any sound as the tuk-tuk driver placed her in the ground, she said.
After the father and the tuk-tuk driver left the scene, boys uncovered the still-living baby girl and alerted monks, who gave the baby a bath and called police.
“This is totally an intentional killing, and it is lucky that the newborn survived and is still alive,” Ms. Phally said.