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Fishermen accused of rape 'guilty', ministry says

The five Cambodian fishermen arrested on Sunday for the alleged rape and assault of a group of French tourists on a Thai resort island are guilty, Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.

The ministry statement followed a visit by the Kingdom’s ambassador to Thailand, Eat Sophea, who interviewed the men personally after visiting the crime scene with Thai authorities on Monday.

“In the interview with the ambassador, the five Cambodian fishermen confessed that they were actually involved in the case of ‘rape and using violence’. During the incident, they were drunk,” the statement reads.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Chum Sounry yesterday said that whatever thin hope the men have of leniency from the Thai court will likely rest on a strategy of pleading that they were drunk and uneducated.

“If drunk, [they] do not know what is right or wrong. In the incident, the five Cambodians were drunk and they have not been exposed to education as well; three are illiterate and two know little,” he said. “These are the reasons we will use in [arguing] for a punishment reduction.”

Thai police have said the men swam ashore on Sunday night when they encountered a group of four French tourists whom they engaged in conversation before raping the two women and attacking the men in the party with sticks and a knife.

Sounry yesterday appealed to Cambodians working abroad to respect their host country’s laws.

“Khmers do not have a history of [being] rapists or violent perpetrators. It is the first time that such a case happened [abroad] and Cambodians were involved. We are very sorry about that,” he said.

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