The Kompong Chhnang Provincial Court has opened an investigation into the alleged rape of a high-school student by a district police chief and summoned the 19-year-old to appear for questioning over the case, officials said Sunday.
The student has accused Hul Veasna, 42, chief of police in Kompong Tralach district, of raping her in his office on July 11, then threatening to kill her and her entire family.
Mr. Veasna has since been suspended and is staying at the provincial police station, but is not being detained.
On Sunday, he said he was still a free man and had not yet been summoned by the court.
You Tithvathanak, the court prosecutor in charge of the case, confirmed that he had asked Mr. Veasna’s alleged victim to appear in court for questioning, but would not provide more details about the case.
“If I say more than this, it will affect the legal procedure,” he said.
Krouch Chhin, deputy chief of the provincial police’s judicial bureau, who led the police investigation, said he sent the case to the court on Tuesday, but also declined to offer more details.
The young woman’s brother said his sister—a grade 12 student in neighboring Cholkiri district—received the summons on Saturday and was ordered to appear before the court on August 10.
Also on Saturday, he added, Mr. Veasna used an intermediary to offer the woman’s family $10,000 to withdraw the complaint—an accusation the police chief denied.
“How could I do that?” Mr. Veasna said. “The case has reached the court and I will just let the court do its job.”
Sam Chankea, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said the fact that Mr. Veasna had not been arrested illustrated the impunity enjoyed by well-connected individuals.
“This is not strange; it is a Cambodian court tradition,” he said, adding that until Mr. Veasna was in custody, he could use his position to intimidate the student and her family.
“Even if he doesn’t use threats, the witnesses, for example, could be afraid.”