Army officer escapes rape charge

Jun 18, 2008 (DVB), An army officer who was accused of involvement in the gang rape of two underage girls in Chin state’s remote Htantalan township has not yet been charged by authorities, according to locals.

Two police officers and a high-level official from Htantalan township court were arrested by local police on 10 June on suspicion of the gang rape of two girls aged 12 and 14.

But locals said the police could not arrest a military official from Light Infantry Battalion 268 who was allegedly involved in the rape as official military law only allows the military court to investigate and punish members of the armed forces accused of breaking the law.

"Local authorities cannot charge any army officials in criminal investigations , their cases are only handled by the military’s strategic command," said a Htantalan resident.

An officer on duty at the Chin State police headquarters said they had not yet been fully briefed on the case, but claimed local police officers had already begun the investigation.

"They have opened a rape case and are currently conducting an investigation," said the police officer.

"The local hospital has already given us medical evidence relating to the rape."

The names of the two victims and the officials accused of their rape have been withheld.

Reporting by Khin Maung Soe Min

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