Father Questioned About Death of Stepson, 3

Battambang provincial police have taken a man into custody for questioning in the death of his 3-year-old stepson, officials said Sunday.

Hen Hane died last Wednes­day after suffering diarrhea and vomiting, Battambang Serious Crime Prevention police Chief Le Tal said.

Neighbors and family members told police and human rights investigators that the child’s stepfather beat him frequently. The man has been arrested and is in court custody, but has not been charged, Le Tal said.

“Neighbors said he struck the child with his elbow and burned him with cigarette butts,” Le Tal said. “The [step]father did not confess his crime. But according to the commune doctors, the child died from constant torture.”

Yin Meng Ly, a Battambang-based investigating official with the human rights group Adhoc, said investigators found cigarette burns on the child’s testicles and bruises on his forehead, chest and back.

The child’s mother, Pheap Ry, 37, told police her husband beat the boy often. The suspect is her third husband, and they have been married since October, she said. She has three other children.

Police and human rights workers say the reason for the abuse is still unknown, but neighbors said the stepfather became angry when the boy left home to play without permission.

In a separate case, So Lyday, 2, died Wednesday at Kantha Bopha I Hospital in Phnom Penh of injuries, including skull fractures. Her adoptive mother, Keo Soly, told doctors she did not know the child, but found her lying under a tree.

Doctors suspecting child abuse reported the case to police, who investigated and found that Keo Soly, a money­ lender, had adopted the girl when she was three days old from a mother who could not repay a $100 loan. Keo Soly was charged with intentional murder Friday.

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