Teenager confesses to drowning five-year-old girl in a river because she called him gay
Police in Cambodia have arrested a man who allegedly drowned a five-year-old girl in a river because she called him gay.
The body of Srean Sokcheam was found floating in the Mekong river on February 11 last year. A first examination of her body concluded that the victim’s drowning was accidental and so police initially ruled out foul play.
However, the girl’s parents remained suspicious about the circumstances surrounding their daughter’s death and reached out to the Ministry of Interior’s Child Protection Unit, asking for the case to be reopened.
Police now believe she was murdered by Touch Naly, a 19-year-old farmer who lived next door to the girl’s family in Kampong Siem district’s Kien Chrey commune.
According to district police deputy chief major Noun Socheath, an investigation and subsequent confession from the accused revealed the full story.
On the evening of February 10 Sokcheam went to a neighbour’s house to watch television with Naly, who was then aged 18. The girl reportedly called him “gay” in front of the other neighbours in the house.
He was so embarrassed by this that he is said to have become “enraged” with the five-year-old. Later that night he persuaded her to follow him to the river, where he pushed her into the water and left her to drown.
Naly then fled home and the victim’s body was found in the river the following day.
According to the Khmer Times, the accused was detained by local authorities on Sunday (May 31) and charged with murder under the Cambodian Criminal Code. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
While there is a growing acceptance of homosexuality in Cambodia, LGBT+ people have no legal protections and discrimination is widespread.
In 2015 the Cambodian government asked its people to “stop mocking” LGBT+ people, criticising entertainers and presenters for making homophobic jokes in order to gain popularity.