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Verdict for acid attack upheld

THE Supreme Court has upheld convictions against Chea Ratha, the former deputy chief of staff of the National Military Police, and five accomplices who were found guilty last year on charges related to a 2008 acid attack.

In November, the Appeal Court handed the six offenders prison sentences of between 15 and 18 years each. They were also ordered to jointly pay US$100,000 to the victim, Ya Soknim, who was left permanently disfigured by the attack.

Hong Sopheak, a lawyer for Ya Soknim, said yesterday that last week’s Supreme Court ruling, which upheld that of the Appeal Court, was “acceptable and just” for his client.

He noted, however, that the six culprits, who were sentenced in absentia, had not yet been brought to justice.

“Police officials are still carrying out the court’s order to apprehend the six accused, who now remain at large,” he said.

The courts ruled that Chea Ratha – previously acquitted of two similar incidents – ordered the attack after Ya Soknim’s niece, prominent beauty queen In Soklyda, fled a forced lesbian relationship.

In May 2008, shortly after In Soklyda went into hiding, Ya Soknim was attacked near Russian Market by two people, one of whom poured a litre of acid onto her face and chest.

She suffered extensive burns as a result, losing one ear, one breast and most of her vision.

Shortly after the attack, Interpol joined the hunt for Chea Ratha, who was never arrested, and is believed to have remained abroad since fleeing Cambodia.

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