Search Continues for Escapee Charged Over Rape of Minor

A man who escaped from outside the Kampot provincial courthouse on Sunday after being provisionally charged with aggravated rape over the assault of a 15-year-old girl was still being sought on Monday night, court and police officials said on Monday.

Sith Saren, 27, confessed on Saturday to raping the girl, who was attacked while riding her bicycle in the forest in Kampot’s Toek Chhou district on Friday morning, deputy district police chief Nop Chanpheap said on Sunday.

Poa Samoeun, who heads the provincial police’s serious crimes bureau, said a team of about 20 officers searched for Mr. Saren throughout the day on Monday, following an unsuccessful hunt on Sunday.

“We deployed people to guard near his house, but he didn’t come back,” he added.

Mr. Saren, who fled when he was returned to the court for questioning at about 2 p.m., had been under the watch of So Phen, the deputy serious crimes bureau chief, Mr. Samoeun said.

“The provincial police chief will take measures to punish the officer that brought the suspect to the court,” he said.

Mr. Phen may be suspended or fired from his job, or even sent to court to be tried, depending on the outcome of a disciplinary council meeting, Mr. Samoeun said.

Mr. Chanpheap said the victim’s family had been informed of the escape, and the girl’s father had joined the search.

“He was worried and he has been helping to search too,” Mr. Chanpheap said.

The alleged victim’s father, a 41-year-old farmer with two other daughters, said he was concerned for his family’s safety. “It is frightening,” he said on Monday. “Now he has escaped, I am afraid that he is holding a grudge and will come to murder us.”

The farmer also said he rejected a request by relatives of Mr. Saren, a construction worker, to settle the case outside of court.

“I can’t settle it, because I am afraid that such a case will happen again in the future,” he said.

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