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Family won’t seek charges in acid attack

THE family of a 17-year-old male student attacked with acid in the capital has decided not to pursue charges after arriving at an out-of-court settlement with his assailants.

On Tuesday, Long Rathvisal suffered injuries to his face and arms during an argument with four other teenagers. Chea Sok, the deputy police chief of Prampi Makara district, where the attack occurred, said on Wednesday that the victim was attacked with acid, though he noted that his injuries were not serious “because the acid is not strong”.

Yesterday, 31-year-old Keo Phaly, a neighbour of Long Rathvisal who witnessed the attack, said a bottle of acid was outside when the fight broke out. “I do not know whether the four boys brought the acid with them or not,” she said. “I just think the acid was in the victim’s house, and when the fighting started they threw it.”

The victim’s family was called in to district police headquarters yesterday for questioning related to the incident.

Afterwards, Chea Sok downplayed the significance of the attack. “It was just fighting between spoiled teenagers and the victim,” he said, and added at one point that “there was no acid attack”. He declined to elaborate, saying the case had been sent to court.

But Chieng Sry, a relative of the victim, said yesterday that Long Rathvisal was “fine”, and that the family considered the matter closed after a solution was negotiated by police and a judge.

She declined to comment on the reasons for the fight, and did not disclose the terms of the settlement.

A report in May from the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity decried the common practice of settling acid attack cases out of court, saying this was one reason that “perpetrators of acid violence regularly escape prosecution and conviction for their crimes”.

CASC coordinator Ziad Samman would not comment yesterday on the settlement, but praised the quick response to the attack by Cambodian police. “The swift response of police, that’s very positive,” he said. “The last few cases it has been like this.”

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