Siem Reap Provincial Court has charged three police officers for the rape of a 12-year-old girl in Siem Reap district in November, but has yet to issue arrest warrants, a court official said Tuesday.
Investigating Judge Sous La said he charged the officers Jan 10 but needs to investigate the case further before making any decision on arrest warrants.
Sous La said that he still has not looked into the case because he is busy with other cases.
The mother of the victim and human rights workers complained to police in mid-December that officers Neang Sam Simeth, 25, Kong Sokun, 21, and Lach Vichheka, 19, raped the girl over a three-day period in mid-November.
The suspects reportedly fled the area while the complaint was being prepared and rights workers have criticized the delay in the court charging the suspects and issuing warrants.
“Police are [supposed to be] law-enforcement officers but they break the law and commit crimes, which is unacceptable,” said Thao Kim San, child-rights coordinator for Licadho.
“I appeal to all senior authorities to punish these officers,” he said.
Adhoc President Thun Saray said the 12-year-old’s case was not a priority for police or the courts because she is poor.
“If the victim is poor and not powerful, the court is not motivated to work,” Thun Saray said.
The number of reported underage rape cases went from 284 in 2005 to 339 last year, Thun Saray said.
“All relevant authorities should take action against the offenders,” he added.
Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak said that he had received no information on the Siem Reap rape case.
However, the three officers should be brought to trial if evidence shows that they actually committed the crime, Khieu Sopheak said.
“As the police, I never defend my officers,” he said.
The girl’s mother could not be reached for comment.