Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong has ordered the Cambodian Embassy in Bangkok to provide a lawyer for five Cambodian fishermen arrested for attacking four French tourists—and raping a mother and daughter among them—on the Thai island of Koh Kut on Saturday night.
Cambodian Ambassador Eat Sophea flew to the island in Thailand’s eastern Trat province on a fact-finding mission on Monday, returning to Bangkok in the afternoon to brief Mr. Namhong by telephone.
A statement signed by the minister and released on Tuesday confirmed details of the attack that were reported by international and Thai media, including the fact that the suspects had confessed to attacking the French tourists near their resort and raping the women, whom the Associated Press identified as a mother and daughter.
The statement also said the men were drunk when they set upon the holidaymakers. It did not identify the men but said all five were under the age of 25 and poorly educated.
Cambodian Embassy staff “must find ways to help the five fishermen and provide a lawyer during court questioning” in Thailand, it added.
Chum Sounry, spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Ministry, said by telephone that the suspects were scheduled to be questioned at the Trat provincial court on Tuesday.
“It is not the first time Cambodians have gone to court in Thailand,” he said, explaining that the embassy in Bangkok employed a lawyer to handle such cases.
Mr. Sounry said the embassy was attempting to contact the families of the five men, who hail from Kompong Cham and Battambang provinces and had been working aboard a Thai trawler named the Chok Kamolwan. He declined to provide the names of the accused, who have been identified by Thai police only as Yim, Pai, Jern, Thi and Bot Man.
The spokesman said he did not know what action the Cambodian government might take in the event that charges were laid against the fishermen but noted Cambodia and Thailand had a bilateral extradition treaty.
The Bangkok Post newspaper has reported that the Chok Kamolwan anchored off the coast of Koh Kut on Saturday and that the fishermen swam ashore in search of more alcohol, stumbling across the tourists in the process. The men then allegedly attacked all four with knives and sticks before raping the women.
In an article on Tuesday, the newspaper said investigators had collected 51 pieces of evidence, including a butcher’s knife believed to have been used in the attack.