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Police target suspects in acid attacks

Suspects had been identified in the first two acid attacks of the year, with a request made for an arrest warrant in one of the cases, police said yesterday.

Kampong Cham provincial police chief Chhay Kim Sun identified the suspect in the year’s first acid attack-related death as a “woman who is a family member of the victim”.

He declined to give more details about the suspect’s identity for fear of spooking her, adding that he was preparing a report for the provincial court on the progress of the case.

Sim Yi, 42, and his girlfriend Srei Leak, 19, were doused with acid on March 9 in Kampong Cham province’s Memot district.

Sim Yi died the same day of his injuries.

District police initially said Sim Yi’s fourth wife, Chheng Mao, 50, had attacked the couple when her husband took the younger woman home for an affair, but the commune police chief later discounted that version of events, saying Chheng Mao was not a suspect.

Meanwhile, Phnom Penh’s Tuol Sangke commune police chief Huy Hean said he had applied for an arrest warrant for a suspect in the year’s first attack, which took place against garment factory worker Rith Savan, 23, in January.

However, he had not received a reply from court officials.

Huy Hean had earlier told the Post that the attack, committed when Rith Savan was alone in her rented room, had been carried out by a woman familiar with the victim.

The suspect called Rith Savan’s name and tossed the acid onto her as she turned to face her, resulting in burns to almost her entire body, he said.

Acid attack victims and advocates have been calling for the arrest of the perpetrators, who would be the first to be sentenced under the new Acid Law passed in December.

The law is designed to better control access to acid and more strictly punish perpetrators.

Persons found responsible for “intentional killing” can be sentenced to 15 to 30 years in prison, or a life sentence if proved there was an “advanced plan or ambush, and torture or cruel acts before or in the time of killing”.

Speaking to the Post last week via email, filmmaker Patti Duncan, co-producer of Finding Face, a documentary about acid attack survivor Tat Marina, said the world is watching to see how the new law is approached.

“The new law, if implemented, is a step in the right direction. Holding perpetrators accountable [will help] to end years of impunity surrounding acid attacks in Cambodia,” she said.

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