POLICE have charged a woman with attempted murder in connection with an acid attack on four karaoke women in Takeo province – the third such assault in Cambodia in eight days.
The victims were sitting in front of the Srey Mach
Karaoke house Thursday evening waiting for customers when two assailants on a motorcycle drove up to the house and doused them with a litre of acid, district police said Sunday.
The four are being treated at a local health centre for injuries to their heads, hands, legs and faces, said Yuk Sarath, Kirivong district’s police chief. One woman suffered major injuries to her face and eyes, he said.
Police have charged 21-year-old wedding shop owner Om Chhi in the attack. Yuk Sarath said Om Chhi confessed that she was angry with the victims for making her brother-in-law “crazy” about the women, causing daily arguments between her brother-in-law and her sister.
“The woman was charged with attempted murder on Saturday and is being temporarily held at the provincial police station. We are searching for the second suspect to join the defendant,” said Soun Pun, provincial deputy police in charge of penal crime.
The four victims have been identified as Vong Sina, 22, Vong Sreyly, 22, Seung Vann, 24, Keo Srey Ya, 30.
Charges in Phnom Penh
Meanwhile in Phnom Penh, the municipal court prosecutor charged two suspects with attempted murder on Friday for allegedly pouring acid on 16-year-old talent show winner Hang Srey Leak last week, according to the municipal police chief.
The victim was at a hairdresser’s salon in Daun Penh district last Tuesday when two men poured half a litre of acid over her, burning her face, back and a leg. Hang Srey Leak is still recuperating at Calmette Hospital.
Phnom Penh Municipal Police Chief Touch Naruth said that after the court questioned three of the victim’s cousins, they decided to charge Soam Vito, 23, and Chheng Puth, 25, because “we have enough evidence, and the victim’s mother also said that her nephews were the perpetrators, and their motorcycle is the same as the assailants’”.
He added that the third cousin was not charged, but that police will continue their investigation.
If convicted, the charge of attempted murder carries with it a maximum sentence of life in prison, said Sok Sam Oeun, director of the Cambodian Defenders’ Project.
The investigation of a third recent acid attack is ongoing, Touch Naruth said.
Sisters Kim Sodine, 18, and Kim Sonita, 17, were on their way to meet their mother in a Phnom Penh market when two men, wearing masks and helmets, pulled up alongside them and poured acid over their heads, faces and bodies.
Doctors have managed to save the eyesight of the two women, who are in a hospital in Vietnam, according to Ziad Samman of the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity.
Concern over attacks
The string of acid attacks – three against seven victims in a week’s time – has caused outrage among rights groups, who say the incidents will continue unless perpetrators are fearful of stiff punishments.
“Unless we can punish high-ranking people, they don’t think twice about committing these crimes,” said Ou Virak, executive director of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights.
“People know that they can get away with these attacks. It’s a cruel and successful weapon.”
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ZELA CHIN