The victim of an acid attack on Friday morning in Kampong Cham province’s Pumron village died hours later that same day, making the incident the first acid-related death since the passage of the Kingdom’s new Acid Law.
Medical and legal manager for the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity Horng Lairapo said yesterday that Sim Yi, 42, died from his injuries at 6pm on Friday at Preah Kosamak Hospital in Phnom Penh after being transferred there from the provincial hospital that afternoon.
“His body has been brought to his house in Kampong Cham province by his older brother,” he said.
About 50 per cent of Sim Yi’s body had been badly burned, he added.
Sim Yi is the first person to die of an acid attack since a new law designed to better control access to acid and punish perpetrators of attacks was passed in December.
Under the law, persons found responsible for intentional killing using acid can be sentenced to 15 to 30 years in prison, or to a life sentence if proved that there was an “advanced plan or ambush, and torture or cruel acts before or in the time of killing”.
The other victim, Sim Yi’s girlfriend, Srei Leak, 19, had suffered burns to roughly 20 per cent of her body, and underwent the first of a series of skin grafts on Friday at the Children’s Surgical Center in Phnom Penh, said Horng Lairapo.
“We are worried about her right eye, as it may not recover normal sight,” he added.
Sim Yi’s wife, Chheng Mao, 50, allegedly doused the couple with acid early on Friday morning when her husband took the younger woman back to their house to carry on an affair, Memot district police officer Him Sarak told the Post on Friday.
He said yesterday that police had not yet arrested Chheng Mao, who had fled after the attack.
“We cannot judge yet if the suspect escaped to another province or if she is still hiding somewhere in the district,” Him Sarak said.
CASC project manager Ziad Samman said the NGO had only recorded a small number of cases that resulted in death since cases were tracked starting in 1984, but that “they represent the deepest and darkest murderous acts that any human being can do to one another”.
He added that the number of cases that CASC knew of “may just be the tip of the iceberg”.
“We are hoping that the person or people responsible for this latest attack are swiftly identified and brought to justice by the authorities,” said Samman.
Executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project Sok Sam Oeun said the new acid law was designed to treat murder by acid more seriously than murder by most other methods, with harsher punishments imposed.
This case will be important in putting the courts through their paces in implementing the law, he added.
“Investigation must be done properly. This case can be used as legal awareness to educate the judiciary system and people,” he said, adding that most of the Cambodian populace did not consider assaults by acid to be that grievous a crime.
Last week’s attack is the second to occur since the law was passed.
The perpetrator of the first attack – against a garment factory worker in January – has yet to be arrested, according to police.