A 14-year-old in Kampong Speu has reportedly confessed to drowning her 4-year-old relative in order to steal and sell the victim’s gold earrings and buy a new mobile phone, according to officials.
At about 2pm on Saturday, the suspect, the teenage girl used sugarcane to lure Seit Khem Chang, 4, to a small dam in Samrong Tong district’s Krang Svay village, said James McCabe, operations manager at the Phnom Penh-based Child Protection Unit, which investigates violence against children.
The teen reportedly confessed to drowning the child in the water, placing rocks on her body to keep her down and stealing her earrings, which she sold at a local market for $20.50, according to McCabe, who said the suspect then purchased a $19 Nokia mobile about 50 metres from the victim’s home.
“I am a bit shocked that it was a female offender and that the offender was only 14 years old,” McCabe said yesterday
The victim was a distant cousin of the suspect, said Samrong Tong district Police Chief Hut Sophal.
The suspect has been sent to the provincial court and will likely be charged today, Sophal said.
“It is obvious it is a murder case, and it was intentional.”
CPU officials, who were alerted to the alleged drowning late on Saturday night, arrived on the scene at about 5am, McCabe said. He praised local authorities in their investigation, which produced evidence including the victim’s earrings, the clothes the suspect wore at the time of the incident and the phone she purchased.
Along with a confession, the suspect demonstrated how she carried out the gruesome killing on video for authorities, McCabe said.
In Cambodia, the minimum age of “criminal responsibility” is 14; given the evidence, the provincial court will probably charge the suspect with intentional murder, said legal expert and lawyer Sok Sam Oeun.
Because she is a minor, the teen will likely receive a lesser penalty than an adult who committed the same crime.
“If her age is 14, it means she’s reached the age of criminal responsibility … [but would likely receive a sentence] half of what an adult would,” Sam Oeun said.
The penalty for intentional murder in the Kingdom is 10 to 15 years of imprisonment, Sam Oeun said. The suspect would likely face five to seven-and-a-half years if convicted.
The age of the suspect and alleged brutal nature of the crime surprised Sam Oeun, he said.
“I do not see similar cases like that … [with seemingly] no mitigating circumstances.”
In 2014 there were 221 cases in 17 provinces involving serious crimes – including rape and murder – where the victim was under 15, McCabe said.