Cops widen school gang rape probe

Cops widen school gang rape probe

Video clip 'used to blackmail victim'

Results of an investigation into five teachers and two alumni of a school in Mukdahan province who allegedly molested a 14-year-old girl will be submitted to the public prosecution soon, according to the Provincial Police Region 4 commissioner overseeing the case.

"Police investigators have almost completed the case and will forward the case to public prosecutors to proceed with it in court," Pol Lt Gen Charoenwit Sriwanich, Provincial Police Region 4 commissioner, said yesterday.

The news comes as the probe widens to ask how the headmaster tolerated such conduct at the school. The attacks were carried out in a variety of locations, including the school premises, over a period of a year.

"The case will be based on forensic evidence to clear any doubts and any arguments. But be assured that police will be fair and will make sure justice will be given to all," Pol Lt Gen Charoenwit said yesterday.

Apart from the case of the 14-year-old victim, police also accepted the case of another victim -- a 16-year-old female student who was allegedly raped by some of the same suspects over the same period of time, from March last year to March this year.

Pol Lt Gen Charoenwit said investigators are looking into a video clip recorded by one of seven suspects which had been used to allegedly blackmail the underage victim and prevent her to go public about the gang rape.

The assault of the 14-year-old was reported to police in Mukdahan by the victim's grandmother on Monday after the victim broke her silence.

According to police information, the girl had been gang-raped on five occasions. The assaults started in March last year, after a maths teacher sexually assaulted her in a teachers' room at the school in Muang district of Mukdahan province. Since then, the maths teacher has asked four other teachers and two male alumni to join the gang rape sessions, police said.

Police said all suspects denied the allegations.

Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan yesterday ordered provincial officials to conduct an investigation to find out why the school's principal ignored the incident.

"Sexual violations in school are not acceptable. School is a place to teach students. School is place where students are and feel protected. It is my mission to make schools a safe place for students," he wrote on his Facebook page.

Chana Soommart, the director of the Student Protection Centre under the education ministry's Office of the Basic Education yesterday confirmed ministry officials have been sent to the school to investigate, adding the allegations of the gang rape at the school "holds grounds". Five teachers have been dismissed from their duties pending the probe results.

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