Police in Pursat province said Thursday that they identified three Vietnamese fishermen as the primary suspects in the rape and murder of a 10-year-old girl earlier this month in Krakor district.
All three remain at large.
On December 16, two days after the girl went missing, a group of villagers found her body floating in the Tonle Sap lake in Ansar Chambak commune. After examining her body, police determined that the girl had been raped and murdered.
Deputy provincial police chief Keo Sokunthea said Thursday that his officers had identified three Vietnamese men as the suspects, but would not give their names.
“We are still cooperating with provincial immigration police to find photos of the suspects to provide to other provinces nearby that can help search and arrest them,” Mr. Sokunthea said.
“We cannot tell you more details…but we hope we will arrest them as soon as possible,” he added.
To Taing Eng, chief of the provincial police’s technical and scientific bureau, said police identified the men—who live in nearby Kompong Luong commune—as suspects after locals said they had suspiciously disappeared.
“According to villagers, every day a few Vietnamese fishermen came to fish near the scene,” he said. “But after the murder, no one saw them there.”
Mr. Taing Eng added that residents of Kampong Luong commune also told police that the fishermen vanished shortly after the girl went missing.
“If they are not involved with the murder, why did they try to escape from police?” he said.
Before the victim went missing, she went to collect firewood with her 8-year-old cousin in two separate rowboats, Mr. Taing Eng said. The cousin told police that while they were out on the lake, the girls stole fish out of the fishermen’s net.
“The girl said the fishermen got very angry,” he said, adding that police suspect the theft of the fish as a motive for the crime.
According to Mr. Taing Eng, the cousin went home ahead of the victim, who said she would follow shortly but never returned.