Father of Slain Child Said He Was Not Told Of Trial, Only Found Out When He Saw Suspects Walking Free in Village
The Kompong Cham Provincial Court on April 7 quietly tried 10 young men accused of the gang rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl, acquitting six of the suspects in a trial that the father of the dead girl said that he was not told about.
Chea Sovatey, 11, was gang raped and stabbed 12 times in mid-September, and her body was dumped in a cassava field behind her house in Vihear Luong commune.
Of the 10 suspects in the crime, four were convicted of premeditated murder and sentenced to 20 years in jail-ringleaders Tes Sompouv, 20, Pen Somol, 23, Seang Chumnit, 18, and Soy Savin, 22. The other six young men were all acquitted, including three who were tried in absentia because they are still at large from the law, deputy provincial prosecutor Moung Sarin said yesterday.
“The four [convicted men] have confessed to their wrongdoing at different stages [of legal proceedings], to the police, prosecutor and investigating judge,” Mr Sarin said. “The four said that the other six just saw the dead body and did not do anything,” he said.
Tes Sompouv, who police claim orchestrated the crime and inflicted the fatal stab wounds to the girl, including the slashing of her throat, threatened to kill the other nine suspects if they went to the authorities, the deputy prosecutor claimed.
Although the 10 men were originally charged with rape and robbery as well as murder, Mr Sarin said that the other two crimes- rape and robbery- were considered aggravating circumstances and subsumed into a premeditated murder charge at the trial.
The victim’s father, Chea Oun; and the family’s lawyer, Khun Kimlun; and the provincial monitor for local human rights group Adhoc, Thy Somalay, all said yesterday that they were not informed of the trial until it was already over.
Contacted by telephone yesterday, both Ms Kimlun and Ms Somalay were still unaware that the trial had already taken place, saying they were under the impression it would be held sometime after the Khmer New Year.
Mr Oun said he had heard nothing of the trial until he noticed three of the suspects in the rape and murder of his daughter walking free in his village.
“They held a trial without informing [me],” Mr Oun said.
“I asked the provincial police, and they told me the case had been heard on April 7 and that they had sent me the verdict, but I saw nothing,” he said.