Police arrested seven people on Wednesday and plan to send three suspects to court for allegedly robbing and murdering a 19-year-old woman in Phnom Penh on Tuesday, one of whom was related to the victim, officers said.
Von Ratha’s classmates at Pong Teuk High School in Pur Senchey district told police she left school at around 10:30 a.m. to meet her cousin Chum Virak, 22, for lunch and never returned, according to district police chief Yim Sarann.
Her body was found in an unfinished apartment building at 4 p.m. in Choam Chao commune, an area rife with drug abuse. Police arrested seven people in Sen Sok district’s Toek Thla commune on Wednesday after interviewing the victim’s classmates, according to Yos Narin, deputy district serious crimes police chief.
“[Mr. Virak] called the victim while she was at school and asked her to come out and have food together on the outskirts of the city,” he said. “Virak attacked the victim with a brick. He hit her in the head about five or six times, leaving her seriously injured, and eventually she died at the scene before police arrived,” he added.
The victim’s 2007 model Honda Dream motorbike was taken along with an iPhone 5s, he added.
Though five men and two women were arrested in connection with the crime, only three are believed to have been involved with the murder, Mr. Narin said.
“Chum Virak confessed that he was the main attacker. He was the one who attacked the victim while Hong Sochouta and Lim Panhavon were just accomplices and watched while Virak was attacking the victim,” he said, adding that the three would be sent to court.
Sok Sophea, 22, Leng Dany, 18, and Kreang Chantou, 19, remain in detention despite being cleared of involvement in the murder, as urine tests showed they had recently used methamphetamine, Mr. Narin said.
Although police were prepared to send the three drug users to court, he said, they would be free to go if their parents came to the district police station and signed a contract agreeing to make sure their children would no longer use drugs.