Police in Battambang are searching for a 34-year-old man suspected of raping two sisters aged 4 and 6 on Thursday in Ek Phnom district, district police chief Ches Sameth said Tuesday.
The key suspect in the case is Thab Lab, Ches Sameth said, add-ing that he personally arrested the suspect for a similar charge in 2006 and he was convicted by the provincial court.
Ches Sameth said he didn’t know why Thab Lab was freed in July 2007.
“The suspect, Thab Lab, was released after a year in prison,” he said.
In the most recent attack, Thab Lab allegedly raped the two girls after bringing them to a field 10 km from their home in Samroang Khnong commune, he said.
He added that the victims’ family found the girls a few hours later.
“The suspect persuaded the victims [to go with him] by giving them 500 riel each, in the aim of raping them,” he said.
“I am investigating and hunting for the suspect to arrest him,” he said.
A 6-year-old boy, who along with the girls had been working in Thab Lab’s yard, was also raped by the suspect on Thursday, said Adhoc investigator Krouch Chanpov. But Ches Sameth said police had not received a complaint from the boy’s family.
Krouch Chanpov said it was unclear why Thab Lab had been released from prison, but that rape convictions normally carry sentences of about 10 years.
Villagers seemed to believe he was released because he was sick, she and Ches Sameth said.
“I am worried if the judge always releases [prisoners] based on their health, it could be harmful to the people,” Krouch Chanpov said, adding that sick prisoners should be cared for but maintained under supervision.
Provincial Prosecutor Sar Yous-thavrak was traveling Tuesday and declined to comment.
His deputy, Koy Kanya, said he wasn’t familiar with Thab Lab’s case, but added that there had been no health-related prisoner releases.
“In the law, there is no rule allowing the release of prisoners based on illness,” he said.