The Takeo Provincial Court on Saturday charged a former soldier with kidnapping a 6-year-old girl a week earlier, following his narrow escape from a mob of angry locals determined to kill him for his alleged crimes, officials said Sunday.
Yung Nhey, chief of the provincial police’s minor crimes bureau, said Presiding Judge In Manith charged Doeun Kieng, 65, with unlawful removal of a minor under the anti-human trafficking law, which carries a maximum prison sentence of five years.
“We sent him to pretrial detention at the provincial prison Sunday,” Mr. Nhey said.
Court officials could not be reached for comment.
On Wednesday, between 400 and 500 people surrounded the Char commune police station in Prey Kabbas district for nine hours and demanded that Mr. Kieng be handed over for summary execution, also pelting the building with rocks, police said.
After some of the rioters left—and others became drunk on palm wine—police were able to transport Mr. Kieng to the district police station.
According to police, Mr. Kieng claims he picked up the girl while driving home on Saturday because he thought she was lost, and only waited until Wednesday afternoon to attempt to return her due to heavy rains that prevented him from leaving his home in Kandal province.
However, when he arrived in Char commune, a cousin of the girl recognized her and a mob chased Mr. Kieng to the commune police station, police said.
On Sunday, Ou Vannarith, deputy police chief in Prey Kabbas district and the lead investigator in the case, said he decided to send Mr. Kieng to the court for his own safety.
“We were concerned about his safety because the local people threatened to kill him if we released him,” he said.
Chhim Srom, who sits on the Char commune council and joined last week’s lynch mob, said residents were pleased that Mr. Kieng had been charged.
“The local people still believe that guy is a kidnapper,” he said.