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Dentist charged in ‘acid’ case

APHNOM Penh dentist who stands accused of a disputed acid attack has been charged with assault.

Lim Soma, 41, was charged Tuesday, said Ek Chheng Huot, deputy prosecutor at Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

Under the UNTAC criminal code, the charge is considered a misdemeanor. A conviction carries a sentence ranging from two months to five years in prison, depending on the severity of the injury.

But neither the assailant nor her target is happy with the charge.

Reached by telephone on Thursday, Lim Soma referred questions to a man she identified as her husband.

“It is unjust to me because the charge on my wife is too serious,” said the man, who declined to give his name.

“My wife did not attack with acid, just tooth-whitening liquid, and the victim did not have any injuries.”

Kea Sokheang, the employer of the victim, Hor Tin, who has spoken on his behalf since the January 4 incident, said he was pleased the court had finally charged Lim Soma after originally asking for the case to be settled out of court, but added that he had been seeking a more serious charge.

“The charge is too light,” Kea Sokheang said.

The two sides have presented vastly diiffering accounts of the incident. Kea Sokheang framed it as the result of a dispute between Lim Soma’s family and his own, with his employee an innocent victim of what he insisted was an acid attack.

Lim Soma, however, said she poured tooth-whitening liquid on Hor Tin to break up a dispute over a parking sign.

New attack reported
In a separate case, officials in Kampong Cham province are reporting a new acid attack – at least the seventh reported this year nationwide.

A rights advocate and a police official said that a man doused his wife with acid after a dispute on Tuesday.

“The victim was seriously attacked and sent to a hospital in Phnom Penh after a provincial hospital could not help her,” said Sam Sarin, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, who identified the victim as 25-year-old Phally Nay.

Keo Samneang, deputy police chief of Memot district, where the attack allegedly took place, said it was the first case of an acid attack in his district. He said police are looking for the accused man.

The most recent attack comes as government officials prepare to meet today as part of a newly formed committee examining acid attacks.

The committee’s head, Teng Savong, secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior, said the group will discuss ways to regulate the sale of acid.

“What is important to us is to control acid [sales] and to put punishments on officials who cannot control the use of acid,” Teng Savong said.

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