A 13-year-old boy allegedly drowned a 4-year-old child in Siem Reap town on Friday and was released immediately after questioning because he is a minor – a move the victim’s father rejected, instead calling for his jailing.
Nol Rong, deputy chief of Siem Reap’s serious crime police unit, said the boy – whose name was withheld due to his age – confessed to police that he submerged Suth Phearith, 4, in the water, but didn’t know the boy had died as a result.
He added that the teen was brought in for questioning after the incident, but was released shortly thereafter for being underage.
“For this case, the suspected boy is under [the age of] 14 years, so we could not detain him or charge [him],” he said.
Jim McCabe, director of the Child Protection Unit, said the boys were playing in the water when the teenager got angry with Phearith and proceeded to push him below the water.
He said the case could have been mistaken as a simple drowning case, but credited investigators with finding the real cause of death. According to the Penal Code, the age of criminal responsibility in Cambodia is 14, with McCabe confirming that the teenager was one month shy of 14 years.
However, the victim’s father, Suth Say, who is also chief of the town’s Chreav commune, said that he had filed a complaint with local police requesting that they prosecute the teenager.
“I do not need compensation from the parents of the suspected boy, but I need the boy in jail,” he said.