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Year’s first acid attack to trial

A 26-year-old woman accused of attacking her sleeping husband with acid on Tuesday in Banteay Meanchey will be the third person tried under the Acid Law, a court official and NGO said yesterday.

In what was the first recorded attack this year, Tor Rachany allegedly threw acid on Hak Ay, 41, after he threatened to divorce her during an argument, authorities said on Wednesday.

Rachany will be tried under Article 20 of the Acid Law, accused of intentionally violent use of concentrated acid, provincial deputy prosecutor Long Cheap said.

The maximum sentence is five years paired with a potential fine of 10 million riel ($2,500).

However, lengthier terms can be handed down to those who plan the attack in advance, stage an ambush or commit torture before or during the attack.

Ay was transferred yesterday from Sisophon Referral Hospital to Mongkol Borei Referral Hospital because of the severity of his injuries, said Sin Sarou, an emergency department officer.

“We are concerned with his left eye because it was so seriously attacked by the acid and may be lost,” Sarou said.

Mongkol Borei Referral Hospital officials could not be reached yesterday.

“We’re monitoring the situation so we can follow up with the survivor and offer medical and psychological support,” said Erin Bourgois, program manager at the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity.

Passed in November 2011, the Acid Law, which imposed harsh new sentences for perpetrators, was designed to deter attacks. Statistics suggest that it has been successful. The reported number of acid attacks fell dramatically to just three in 2013, since peaking at 27 in 2010.

But while reported acid attacks have decreased significantly, sentences have been handed down in only two instances under the new law.

The first case, in Kampong Cham, saw a man sentenced to a decade in prison and fined $5,000 in June 2012 for brutally dousing a woman in acid, while the second, in Phnom Penh, saw a man sentenced in January 2013 to five years for throwing battery acid at his ex-wife after she told him she planned to remarry.



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