Officer Released After Arrest For Rape of Teenage Relative

A police officer accused of raping a 16-year-old relative was released without charge on Tuesday after his superiors in Kampot province determined the sex was consensual, officials said on Tuesday.

After initially refusing to divulge information about the case, authorities confirmed on Tuesday that Suon Sopheara, 28, a Thmei commune warrant officer, was arrested on Sunday after he was accused of raping the girl on Friday after luring her to his home with a request for a hot-coin massage.

But Mr. Sopheara was free by nightfall, having been released by the Kampot Provincial Court based on the assessment of deputy provincial police chief Poa Samoeun, who questioned the suspect on Sunday.

“Honestly, it was not really rape. They agreed to sleep with each other,” Mr. Samoeun said. “If it was really rape, the victim might have shouted for help at once, but the victim slept with the suspect in his room until the morning.”

Mr. Samoeun said he only sent Mr. Sopheara to the provincial court on Tuesday because of the girl’s age.

“Even though they agreed to it, the law says it is wrong because the victim is a minor,” he said. In fact, the age of consent in Cambodia is 15.

Ek Senghout, chief prosecutor at the provincial court, said he freed Mr. Sopheara because his superiors vouched for him, apparently convinced of his innocence.

“There is no article under which to charge the suspect because they consented to sleep together,” he said.

Sam Uk, chief of police in Toek Chhou district, which includes Thmei commune, said he called Mr. Sopheara to the district station after receiving the complaint and briefly questioned the suspect before arresting him.

Pressed for his own assessment of the officer’s guilt, Mr. Uk responded angrily.

“Why are you asking me this? If you want to know more, why don’t you ask him?” he said. “What he did is his problem.”

Mr. Uk refused to provide contact information for Mr. Sopheara, and the officer could not be reached.

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