The government has failed in recent years to take steps to prosecute perpetrators of sexual violence committed during the Khmer Rouge, according to the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.
A 26-year-old man is on the run after brutally killing his 2-month-old daughter by bashing her against a sickle after a domestic dispute with his wife in Preah Sihanouk province’s Prey Nop district, police said Tuesday.
In the unrelated but similar murder of a 1-year-old baby boy on Sunday night, the suspect, 29-year-old Soun Seng, was charged with murder Tuesday, Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court Judge Ith Samphors said.
Som Sokha, Prey Nop district police chief, said that infanticide suspect Cheng Meak arrived home after drinking with his wife’s relatives and started to fight with his spouse at around 8:30 p.m. Monday night.
“During the argument, the suspect grabbed the baby’s legs and bashed her against a sickle that was leaning against a wall,” Mr. Sokha said.
The baby died on the way to hospital, Mr. Sokha said, adding that Cheng Meak fled after killing his daughter.
“We are…searching for the suspect and we will punish him according to the law,” he said.
In Banteay Meanchey on Tuesday, Soun Seng was charged with murder for killing his one-year-old cousin and injuring the child’s grandmother.
“We charged the suspect with murder although he is mentally ill,” Mr. Samphors said. Soun Seng had attacked and injured 54-year-old Sreb San, the slain child’s grandmother, with a cleaver before grabbing his 1-year-old cousin by the legs and smashing his head against a pillar.
Police and relatives said that Soun Seng had been taking medication for an undefined mental illness for several years, and had exhibited violent behavior before.
“We did not define the suspect’s mental illness but we will ask a doctor specializing in mental health to assess if he is insane or not,” Mr. Samphors said.
“If the suspect is insane, we can’t just put him in prison, we have to treat him,” he said.
Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodian Defender’s Project, said that if Soun Seng is found to be mentally unfit, he should be acquitted.
“Under Cambodian law, if the defense lawyer can prove that the suspect was insane during the crime…he would have to be locked up in some hospital under custody,” Mr. Sam Oeun said.
However, special facilities for criminals with mental illness do not exist in Cambodia.
(Additional reporting by Denise Hruby)
© 2013, The Cambodia Daily. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced in print, electronically, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without written permission.