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Accused stands trial over fatal Kampot acid attacks

Accused stands trial over fatal Kampot acid attacks

Court hears that an ill-fated love triangle may have been the cause of the attack, which left a Kampot woman and her granddaughter dead.

ATTACKED BY ACID

Since 1999, there have been at least 127 acid attacks reported in Cambodian newspapers, involving a total of 208 victims. At least nine of the victims died, with the remainder often left with severe injuries. Of the 208 victims, 112 of them were male and 96 female. The youngest was a 3-week-old baby, according to data from local rights group Licadho. 

THE trial of a man accused of an acid attack that killed a Kampot woman and her granddaughter opened Wednesday, although two others accused of the crime are still on the run from authorities.

Mon Ton, 27, appeared in Kampot provincial court Wednesday, accused of the murder of Thom Saroeun, 46, and her 3-year-old granddaughter, Thai Srey Thim, in January 2008.

Yun Phally, a Kampot-based prison researcher for local rights group Licadho who was present at the hearing, said the accused denied the allegations against him, but court prosecutor Chum Samba upheld the charges.

The presiding judge, Pich Chhoeut, told the court the verdict will be handed down Tuesday.

Mom Ton's mother, wife of the O'Makak village Chief Mom Touch, and another unnamed relative are also wanted in connection with the case, which took place in Angkor Chey district's Dambok Kpos commune.

San Sou Dalen, a lawyer for the victims' family said they were requesting 30 million riels (US$7,245) in compensation for the deaths and also to punish the fugitive suspects.

Police statement

During the hearing, a clerk read out statements from a confession the accused's mother made at the provincial police station following the commission of the crime, Yun Phally said.

He said the clerk read parts of the interveiw in which the mother said the "acid attack was caused by a love triangle between her husband and the dead woman, who had a close relationship and made her jealous".

But Yun Phally added that Mom Touch has denied from the beginning that he was involved in an affair with the slain woman, although his wife and another relative have been on the run since the court issued arrest warrants.

Provincial Licadho coordinator Ngeth Soseng said there were still uncertainties relating to the case, and that there has been no official confirmation from the victim's family about whether a love triangle led to the deadly attack.

But he said Licadho had been informed that Thom Saroeun was the subject of a jealous hatred from the village chief's wife, who reportedly hired a man to kill her.

Ngeth Soseng said the would-be assassin informed his victim, and it was only later, once the woman lodged a complaint at the local police station, that she and her granddaughter were assaulted with acid.

"We couldn't ask any information from the woman [after the attack] because her condition was very serious and her granddaughter was also severely wounded," he said.

Court prosecutor Chum Samba declined to comment on the case pending Tuesday's verdict.

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