Police in Mondolkiri province arrested a 32-year-old plantation worker on Tuesday evening, a day after he allegedly raped a 12-year-old girl in the forest, officials said Wednesday.
Lem San, 32, assaulted the girl on Monday after luring her and two friends, aged 10 and 11, into the woods about 4 km from their homes in Keo Seima district’s Sre Chhouk commune, police said.
Mao Kimseng, deputy chief of the provincial police’s central judicial bureau, said officers Wednesday arrested Mr. San at the rubber plantation where he worked.
“I can confirm that we arrested him at about 7 p.m. last night while he was hiding in Sre Chhouk commune,” he said.
Deputy provincial police chief So Sovann said Mr. San was located using information from the girls and a local man, who had been in the area at the time of the rape.
“There are two reasons that police were able to arrest the suspect yesterday night,” he said. “The first is that those three girls recognized his face. And second, a villager saw the suspect walk quickly from the place of the incident shortly after he raped the girl.”
Mr. Sovann said police interviewed locals throughout the day on Tuesday, quizzing them on the suspect’s features as described by the girls and the man. He said villagers recognized the suspect as a worker on a local rubber plantation.
“After we interviewed people yesterday, police surrounded the location where he was hiding and then we arrested him,” he said. “The suspect already confessed to committing the crime.”
According to Mr. Sovann, Mr. San previously worked as a farmer in Siem Reap province’s Sotr Nikum district and recently came to work for the rubber company.
Mr. Sovann said the suspect was being held at the provincial police headquarters and would be sent to court Thursday.