Two years after his conviction, a Kampong Chhnang rapist remains free, prompting human rights activists yesterday to slam local law enforcement for their inaction.
According to provincial ADHOC coordinator Sam Chankeat, the police had “no will to find justice” after Mer Virak raped a 20-year-old woman in 2012 in Boribor district’s Melom commune.
The victim’s mother, You Sophorn, said she filed an initial complaint but the perpetrator’s family approached the victim with an offer of marriage.
The victim accepted but, days later, Virak reneged, leading Sophorn to file another complaint, which commune police said was invalid because the victim had previously agreed to wed her rapist.
Sophorn said she then sought out legal representation through Adhoc, and Virak was prosecuted at the provincial level in absentia. Although he was fined 8 million riel (almost $2,000) and sentenced to seven years in prison in 2014, he remains at large.
“I cannot be silent. Now the suspect is still not arrested,” Sophorn said.
Kampong Chhnang provincial police chief Soum Socheat said he was not aware of the case because the charges stemmed from four years ago.
Gender and Development in Cambodia executive director Ros Sopheap said the too-common practice of settling rape cases with compensation or marriage outside of the courtroom needed to stop.
“The rapist or the perpetrator must face responsibility,” she said, adding that perpetrators could become repeat offenders if there were no repercussions for their crimes.