A 25-year-old man suspected of raping and murdering his 11-year-old neighbor was arrested on Saturday after the young girl was found hanging from a noose made from rope and electrical wire at her aunt’s house in Siem Reap province, police said Sunday.
Duong Sokha, chief of the provincial police’s serious crimes bureau, said Sar Kosal, a volunteer English teacher and university student, was arrested after police became suspicious of the circumstances surrounding
Chin Sothina’s apparent suicide at the home in Puok district’s Puok commune.
Mr. Sokha said the police’s investigation quickly focused in on Mr. Kosal—who lived only a few meters from the aunt’s house—after the man had taken the lead in taking down the young girl’s body, which was hanging from metal bars protecting the window.
“We began to suspect him because he was the one who took her off the rope,” Mr. Sokha said, adding that police had promptly discounted the possibility of suicide given the victim’s youth and the appearance of the crime scene.
“The scene of the incident is not appropriate, and if we look at the girl, at this age she could not have been depressed in order to hang herself,” he said.
Mr. Sokha explained that a quick inspection of the body by police and a medical official had led to the conclusion that Chin Sothina had been raped and then murdered.
“We then inspected the genitals of the suspect and found that it still had semen on it like he had recently had sex,” he said.
Tep Pumsen, Puok district police chief, said Mr. Kosal had been arrested at his home at 4 p.m., adding that he was known to be familiar with the victim.
Police arrived at the scene of the crime shortly after being called by victim’s aunt at 3 p.m., but found that the suspect had already taken the body down, according to Mr. Pumsen. He said
Mr. Kosal had arrived at the house after the aunt had asked for help from villagers.
“In this incident, the suspect was the person who cut the body off the rope and laid it down,” he said, adding that he could not elaborate further on why Mr. Kosal—whom he identified as a teacher at a local learning center and a university student—was suspected.
Mr. Kosal denied both the rape and murder during questioning at provincial police headquarters, according to Mr. Sokha, the serious crimes bureau chief.
“Until now, the suspect did not admit to anything but based on the scene and evidence we have collected, we concluded that he committed the crime,” Mr. Sokha said.
He added that the suspect would be sent to the provincial court today for further questioning.
Mr. Kosal’s arrest for the rape and murder of China Sothina was the second time in a week that a man from Puok commune has been apprehended for an underage sex crime.
A week before, Huy Sarum, a 19-year-old man who occasionally worked as a bicycle repairman, was arrested on suspicion of raping his cousin’s 4-year-old daughter on three separate occasions.