No Response From Minister On Police Rape Case, Says Opposition

SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua on Monday once again requested that Interior Minister Sar Kheng re­lease details of October’s alleged rape of a 19-year-old woman by two men—a Phnom Penh police officer and a security guard—at a Mean­chey district karaoke parlor. Meanwhile, police and the Phnom Penh Municipal Court are still at odds over what happened to the two suspects after they were detained and released.

Ms Sochua, who wrote to Mr Kheng in November asking for details about the case, said in her latest letter to the Interior Min­ister that she has received no response.

“I hope and believe that local police officers would take all kinds of measures to protect the victim from sexual abuse and take measures to conduct a complete investigation,” Ms Sochua wrote.

Last month, municipal police chief Touch Naruth said that Uong Dara, 43, who is accused of raping the woman on Oct 31, and security guard Chan Narith, 50, who al­legedly held the woman down during the rape, were sent to the municipal court. However, municipal court officials said at the time that, although they received the po­lice investigation report, the suspects were never sent to the court.

Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak said by telephone yesterday that as far as he knew the municipal court had granted bail to the suspects after the alleged victim agreed to accept around $250 in return for dropping charges against the men.

“The victim stopped suing and took the 1 million riel,” Mr Sopheak claimed, before referring questions to the police chief, Mr Naruth, who could not be reached for comment.

Deputy Prosecutor Sok Roeun reiterated yesterday that the court had never received the suspects so no bail had been granted.

“In the karaoke case there were no humans; only the case file was sent,” the deputy prosecutor said. “There is nothing to grant bail to when there is only an empty case file.”

Informed of Mr Roeun’s re­sponse, Mr Sopheak said that if the court really had received the case file, it should have issued arrest warrants for the two suspects.

“Why didn’t the court handle it?” Mr Sopheak asked. Police “can only make arrests only if there is a warrant from the court,” he said.

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