Police Have Suspects in Pursat Rape-Murders

Police said Tuesday they are ma­k­­­ing progress in the investigation of the rape and murder of two young girls in Pursat province earlier this month and expect results soon.

Krakor district police chief Ben Vanna said by telephone that police have identified suspects in the brutal rapes and murders of Phal Sop­hoeun, 14, and her cousin Nai Vinn, 11, who were found battered, strangled and hung from a tree in the forest on Jan 6.

“We will get results in the next couple of days,” Ben Vanna said, adding that police need more evidence before suspects can be named, arrested and charged.

“[The perpetrators] are from that village; they weren’t from another village,” he said, before declining to comment further.

Ngeth Theavy, Adhoc coordinator and women’s section chief in Pursat province, said police appear to be working hard on the case, adding that she suspected police might have been instructed to take this case seriously by hi­gh­­­­er-ups.

“This is the first case [I’ve seen] where police are making every effort,” she added.

Pursat Provincial Police Chief Sarun Chanthy confirmed an order had come from higher police au­thorities to push the double-murder investigation forward.

“Two days after the crime, we received a direct order from the central police [at the Ministry of Interior],” he said.

Answering concerns that pressure to find the culprits could lead to police arresting an innocent scapegoat, Sarun Chanthy said that would not happen.

“If we [just] wanted to arrest someone, we could have done it right after the crime,” he said. “We do not want the court releasing [someone] after we sent them to it.”

Last week, 601 Cambodians signed a petition demanding that the Ministry of Interior step up its efforts in the case and forwarded the petition to other government bodies.

The petition organizers have not yet received a response from any of the government bodies to whom the document was sent, said Lim Solinn, who started the campaign.

“We haven’t heard anything from them at all, and we always leave our phones on 24/7,” she said.

“We might call for a second round of the petition. We’ll keep sen­­d­­­ing if there is no response at all.”

Ministry of Interior spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday.

  (Additional reporting by Isabelle Roughol)


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