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Appeal date set in Chea Ratha acid case

An appeal against the acquittal of a former Military Police official accused of involvement in a brutal acid attack against her lesbian lover’s aunt will be heard Wednesday, a court official confirmed Monday.

The appeal was lodged after Chea Ratha, former deputy chief of staff of the Military Police, was found not guilty of masterminding the May 2008 attack that left Ya Soknim, the aunt of prominent beauty queen In Soklyda, scarred for life.

The verdict, announced August 31, was jointly condemned by human rights groups Licadho and the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR).

In a statement released to the media September 2, Licadho director Naly Pilorge said: “What is so shocking in this case is the judges’apparent total disregard of evidence against Chea Ratha and her alleged accomplices.”

Evidence received by Phnom Penh Municipal Court during the yearlong investigation included recordings of phone calls in which Chea Ratha threatened to kill In Soklyda’s relatives, logs of telephone calls for Chea Ratha and her co-defendants on the day of the attack, and a report confirming that acid was found in the home of one of Chea Ratha’s associates, Licadho and CCHR said.

Chea Ratha’s lawyer, Nach Try, said his client – who is believed to have left the country – would not be present at the hearing, the date of which was confirmed by Court of Appeal Deputy President Chuon Sunleng.

Neither Ya Soknim nor In Soklyda could be reached for comment.

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