Months of investigation into the March rape and murder of a 24-year-old Sihanoukville woman led to the arrest of four men on Friday, including the victim’s former boyfriend, with one suspect still at large, police said.
Preah Sihanouk provincial police found Prak Sothy’s body on March 13 wrapped in blankets and dumped in the forest of Sihanoukville’s Buon commune, according to deputy provincial police chief Kol Phally. Authorities were not immediately able to identify her remains, and Mr. Phally would not comment on how long it took to verify her identity.
Police believe the victim’s ex-boyfriend, Tien Khlonh, 30, plotted the attack in revenge, as he “held a grudge against her,” Mr. Phally said.
Angered by their break-up, Mr. Khlonh enlisted the help of his friends Sao Bora, 32, Phon Sophorn, 30, and Sun Narith, 30, Mr. Phally said. All the men lived in Sihanoukville and worked in fishing and construction.
Prak Sothy’s parents and sister confirmed to police that she was in a relationship with Mr. Khlonh and that the pair had lived together for two years before separating, he said.
According to police, Mr. Khlonh called Prak Sothy on March 10 at about 8 a.m. and asked her to buy two bags of rice. They then went with one of the assailants to a construction site in O’tres II, Buon commune, Mr. Phally said.
When they arrived, three other attackers, whom Mr. Khlonh had phoned in advance, were waiting, and the four men took turns raping Prak Sothy while Mr. Khlonh watched, the deputy police chief said.
The men later murdered her, fearing her screams would attract the attention of passersby, he said.
“The victim screamed and while she was screaming, they were afraid that people would know, so they used a towel to strangle her, covered her mouth and stabbed her,” he said.
The four men are being detained at Preah Sihanouk provincial prison on murder charges, according to Investigating Judge Suon Chantha. He said additional charges, including sexual assault, would be levied.