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Acid murder trial under way

Sroeun Nann sits at a Phnom Penh police station in March after her arrest on charges that she attacked Meas Vanny with acid.
Sroeun Nann sits at a Phnom Penh police station in March after her arrest on charges that she attacked Meas Vanny with acid. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Acid murder trial under way

The trial of a woman accused of using acid to murder a teenager she suspected of having an affair with her husband began in Phnom Penh yesterday, almost five months after the attack.

Sroeun Nann, 40, was arrested on March 6, the same day she threw acid over the face and body of 15-year-old Meas Vanny.

Nann accused the girl of romantic involvement with her husband, who worked at the same garment factory where Vanny was a security guard.

After more than two weeks of agony, the teenager – who was previously reported as being aged 20 – died of her injuries on March 21.

While Nann has admitted to the attack, she denies meaning to murder Vanny.

She currently faces charges of “intentional killing by the use of concentrated acid” under the country’s Acid Law, enacted in January 2012.

“I just wanted to warn her and cause her injury so that she would stop getting involved with my husband,” she told the court.

Vanny’s father, Sin Sinoeun, yesterday said he was demanding 100 million riel (about $20,000) in compensation, and called for a harsh sentence.

“To find justice for my daughter, I would like to ask the court to punish her strongly,” he said.

A conviction for Nann would be only the second under the 2012 law, drafted by the government with the help of NGO Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity (CASC).

Since the drafting of the law began in 2010, acid attacks have fallen more than 80 per cent, leading to CASC’s funding being slashed.

Speaking yesterday, former CASC project manager Erin Bourgois welcomed the prosecution, but urged the government to give victims more assistance.

“The road to recovery is long, and now that CASC has downsized, this support is needed more than ever,” she said.

While two cases prosecuted under the Acid Law had previously led to convictions, Bourgois pointed out that last month the Supreme Court reclassified the first conviction as falling under the criminal code.

That incident saw Pov Kolab, then aged 20, attack Kong Touch, then aged 52, in September 2011, in an act of revenge over money owed to him by Touch’s nephew. In June 2012, Kolab received a 10-year sentence and was fined 20 million riel (about $5,000).

That conviction was followed in January 2013 by a five-year sentence and 10 million riel ($2,500) fine handed to 49-year-old Bin Soeun.

He had doused his ex-wife Nhem Sreyda, 32, with acid in August 2012, after she told him she intended to remarry.

A verdict in Nann’s case is due on August 24.