District Official Charged in Child Rape Case

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The Loeuk Dek district police station in Kandal province. (Loeuk Dek police Facebook)
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A district official in Kandal province has been charged with the purchase of child prostitution following accusations of confining and raping a 14-year-old girl in a guesthouse, and potentially faces 7-15 years in jail.

Morm Sela — who serves as the deputy chief of the legal office for dispute resolution in Loeuk Dek district — was arrested October 25 in Kampong Phnom commune.

Police previously said that another man had invited the victim to eat a meal with Sela, 35, who gave her beer until she was drunk then brought her to a local guesthouse and raped her.

The man did the same for another suspect, Ouk Toeng, 36, about a week later.

Kandal Provincial Court spokesman So Sarin said on Monday that Sela and Toeng had been charged with purchase of child prostitution under the Anti-Human Trafficking Law. The charge carries a potential jail term of 2-5 years for minors 15 years old and above, and 7-15 years for those younger than 15.

The pair had been sent to pretrial detention at the provincial prison, Sarin said.

Authorities are continuing their interrogations of the suspects and looking for others involved in the crime, he added.

Rights group Licadho’s spokesman Am Sam Ath said the official’s position should be considered an aggravating circumstance in the criminal prosecution.

A recent Unicef study warned of online sexual exploitation among minors in Cambodia, with one in 10 children between 12 and 17 reporting “clear examples” such as pressure to share sexual images or coercion into sexual activities through the promise of money or gifts.

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