45 men now accused of raping rural village schoolgirl in Thailand

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A 14-year-old girl who claimed she was raped by 40 men from her community and nearby villages in Phangnga has identified five new suspects.

Khok Kloi police chief Sathit Prom-uthai yesterday said investigators presented photos of 11 men, of whom the girl identified five as villagers who allegedly gang-raped her.

Arrest warrants have not been issued as police will summon the five men for questioning first.

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Officers needed to conduct the investigation with care as the case was a sensitive issue. Therefore, no warrants have been issued so far, Pol Col Sathit said.

The girl’s stepfather also was taken to hospital for a physical examination to determine whether he was involved after some villagers cast aspersions over his relationship with the girl.

The case came under the spotlight after the girl’s mother submitted a complaint with local police asking them to re-open the case after finding out there were 40 people involved in her daughter’s alleged rape.

The alleged crimes took place last year in Ban Koh Raet in Takua Thung district.

Three suspects were arrested earlier and charged with rape. They were later released on bail.

But the girl insisted there were many more people who abused her.

Phangnga deputy governor Ekkarat Leesen, who chaired a panel which looked into the case, yesterday said police were still investigating.

They also sent officers to collect evidence and speak to witnesses at several locations.

He said he had no idea how long the investigation would take.

Mr Ekkarat said mental health teams and officials from various agencies were dispatched to build understanding with villagers who were not satisfied with the girl’s mother’s account as they believed her claims damaged the image of the village and local tourism.

Meanwhile, Chanon Abdullah, of the Muslim for Peace Foundation’s Phuket branch, said the girl and her family were under a protection programme.

Sanit Sangmuang, assistant village chief of Ban Koh Raet, said 40 villagers who were accused of sexually assaulting the girl remained in the village and were living their lives as normal. – BangkokPost

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