P Penh Man Charged for Having Sex with a Minor

A 31-year-old Phnom Penh man was charged yesterday for allegedly having sex with a 13-year-old schoolgirl that he had lured to the capital from Preah Sihanouk province, police and court officials said.

Municipal anti-human trafficking police chief Keo Thea said yesterday that Oem Sovann, a blacksmith who had been working at the victim’s school in Preah Sihanouk province, had allegedly convinced the girl to go with him to Phnom Penh on Monday.

Mr Thea said that since being arrested by police in Phnom Penh on Tuesday, Mr Sovann had allegedly confessed to having had sex with the victim six times.

“The suspect confessed that he had sexual intercourse with the victim but that he did not force her or threaten to rape her because he claimed they were in love” he said. “After questioning, the victim also did not report that he had forced or threatened her.”

Mr Thea said that police had been notified of the incident after the victim’s father received a telephone call from his daughter who told him she was in Phnom Penh with Mr Sovann. The girl’s father traveled to the capital on Tuesday and apprehended the suspect, before taking him to the anti-human trafficking police office to be arrested, Mr Thea said.

Deputy Phnom Penh prosecutor Chea Meth said yesterday Mr Sovann had been placed in provisional detention at Prey Sar prison after being charged with having sex with a juvenile under 15 years old, which carries a penalty of 15 years in prison.

Mr Meth said even though the suspect claimed that he had consensual sex with the victim, he had still broken the law.

“It is still a crime because the victim was only 13 years old,” he said.

Lim Mony, deputy director of the women and children’s rights program at human rights organization Adhoc, said a 13-year-old was not capable of consenting to sex with an adult.


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