Police are also searching for a 15-year-old girl who may have been gang raped last week
Police yesterday arrested a 35-year-old suspect in the rape-murder of an 18-year-old found hanged from a tree in Kompong Cham, police said, adding that the man is also a suspect in the related slaying of a 20-year-old man, whose body was discovered at the bottom of a well 30 meters away from the woman.
The Cambodia Daily has reported on 11 rape and murder cases of women and children since January, with four rape-killings in May alone. In all of 2009, 27 women and children were raped and murdered, according to local rights group Adhoc.
“The suspect did not confess to the murder, but we have witnesses and evidence,” said Chan Hor, deputy chief of Kompong Cham’s provincial judicial police bureau. “It is a cruel murder case.”
The suspect, Doek Sung, could appear in court as early as today and police are searching for more suspects in the rape murder of Moung Sreyroth, Mr Hor said.
One day prior to the discovery of Ms Sreyroth’s body, police on Monday discovered the body of Thy Phen, 20, an acquaintance of Ms Sreyroth, whose hands were tied and who appears to have died of blunt force trauma to the head and neck from an unknown object before his body was thrown down a water well, Hor said.
Yesterday, police discovered Ms Sreyroth’s body in a cashew orchard. The teenager was strangled and her neck broken before she was hanged by krama from a cashew tree 1.5 meters off the ground in an attempt by the killers to a make her death appear to be a suicide and not a rape and murder case, Mr Hor said.
It appears that Mr Phen was thrown down the well because he was a witness to the rape of Ms Sreyroth, Mr Hor said.
“Thy Phen was killed because the offenders wanted to hide their rapist act,” he said. District police declined to comment yesterday.
Mr Hor said that his officers are also searching for Mr Phen’s 15-year-old girlfriend, who was reportedly gang raped on Thursday and has since disappeared from the area.
The 15-year-old, a friend of Ms Sreyroth, was driven to a secluded area on Thursday by the late Mr Phen where she was attacked and raped by two men who were waiting wearing masks to conceal their identities, Mr Hor said, adding that Mr Phen fled the scene without the teenager, and her family reported the gang rape later that day after the girl returned home. The girl disappeared before police could interview her, he said.
“Thy Phen was suspected of arranging the rape,” Mr Hor said, adding that Mr Phen disappeared shortly after the 15-year-old’s rape was reported to police.
Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak, Interior Ministry spokesman, said that he did not have statistics, but rapes and murders appear to be on the rise.
Yin Dopha, Dar commune chief, expressed dismay at the crimes.
“I feel so scared after seeing the cruel rape and murder,” he said. “It seems like we live in anarchy.”