ONE woman was critically injured and three others suffered mild burns in an acid attack outside a garment factory in the capital’s Dangkor district yesterday morning.
Keo Savorn, a 23-year-old garment factory worker who was badly burned in the attack, said she was leaving the Chantex Garment Company building to buy refreshments during a lunch break at 11:45am when a man poured a half-litre of acid over her face.
“When I was walking to buy sugarcane juice I saw the man walking in front of me carrying a bottle of acid,” she said from her bed at Calmette Hospital, her face shrouded in plasters and bandages.
“I thought it was pure water because all workers always carry a water bottle in their hands when they leave work,” she added.
Keo Savorn said she had noticed the man shortly before he attacked her and knew that he worked in the laundry department at the Chentex factory.
“I could recognise his face because I saw him before he threw acid on me, but I don’t know his name,” she said. However, she said she had never spoken to the man and suspected that someone else had hired him to attack her.
“I filed a complaint to the authorities to arrest the suspect and the mastermind behind the case, and to punish them through the law,” she said. She said she plans to request US$10,000 in compensation.
Three people standing near her had also been splashed with the corrosive liquid, she said, but they were not seriously injured, and the attacker fled the scene on a motorbike.
Hen Sokheang, a 20-year-old worker at the factory, was also sent to Calmette for treatment yesterday.
“I was very shocked when I got the acid attack, but I am lucky because it burned only my heel,” she said.
She said the other two victims, both vendors who sell refreshments outside the factory, had received medical treatment for minor burns at another hospital.
Born Samath, district police chief, said that the victims had provided a description of the attacker, and that police expected to be able to make an arrest within the next couple of days.
“I will not allow the suspect to be free, and maybe two days later we can arrest him because we know his identity already,” he said.
He said he believed the attack had been intended to target only Keo Savorn.
Ouk Kimlek, an under secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior and deputy director of a government committee tasked with drafting new legislation designed to curb acid violence, yesterday urged police to prosecute the attacker.
“The suspect or perpetrator must be responsible for the crime they committed, and they have to be punished through the law,” he said.
Representatives of the committee, which was formed in February following a spate of acid attacks that began late last year, originally said that they expected to finalise a draft of the new law shortly after Khmer New Year, but later said that more time was needed to revise the draft.
Early drafts of the law provided for harsher sentences for perpetrators of acid violence, including life imprisonment for the most serious attacks.
Ouk Kimlek said yesterday that the government committee would try to complete the law “as soon as possible”.