Teen Charged for Prank-Calling Radio Station

The Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court charged a 15-year-old girl with slander Tuesday after she prank-called a popular radio station claiming to have been kidnapped, a ruse that led to a 19-hour police search, court officials said.

Ream Chanmony, provincial deputy prosecutor, said the 15-year-old secondary school student had called ABC 107.5 Radio, an immensely popular Khmer-language radio station that broadcasts crimes and emergencies in real time, on Sunday to say that she had been kidnapped and was being detained somewhere in Sihanoukville.

She was arrested Monday and questioned in court on Tuesday, Mr. Chanmony said.

“She confessed that she faked a story that she was kidnapped and detained in a house in Sihanoukville,” Mr. Chanmony said. “She has been charged with slander.”

Mr. Chanmony said that he expected the sentence to be light as the girl was a minor, but that it depended on the judge. “According to the law, her charge can carry a sentence from one month to five years,” he added.

After ABC announced the fake kidnapping on air around 5 pm on Sunday, national police chief Neth Savoeun commanded his officials to conduct a search for the girl, said provincial penal police chief Kol Phally.

“After about 19 hours of searching for her throughout the city, at about 12:30 pm on Monday, we found the girl at her aunt’s house playing with her relatives,” Mr. Phally said.

Mr. Phally declined to say whether police had been to the girl’s home at the start of the search or whether they had interviewed her family. “The search was done using police techniques,” he said.

During questioning, the teenager confessed that it had all been a prank, he said. “She didn’t think that it would draw so much attention from the police.”

“I suggest to the Cambodian people throughout the country not to fake stories that cause social disorder and make the police busy. Faking these things is against the law and the person has to be responsible,” Mr. Phally said.

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