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Appeal set to begin in Chea Ratha acquittal

Appeal set to begin in Chea Ratha acquittal

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Prominent beauty queen In Soklyda speaks at a press conference after the aquittal of Chea Ratha in September.

AN appeal against the acquittal of a former Military Police official accused of involvement in a brutal acid attack against her lesbian lover’s aunt is due to be heard today, a lawyer confirmed Thursday.

The appeal, which has been delayed several times, was lodged after Chea Ratha, former deputy chief of staff of the Military Police, was found not guilty of masterminding a May 2008 attack that left Ya Soknim, the aunt of prominent beauty queen In Soklyda, scarred for life.

The verdict, announced on August 31, was condemned by human rights groups Licadho and the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR). Licadho director Naly Pilorge condemned the verdict in a statement released to the media in early September.

“What is so shocking in this case is the judges’ apparent total disregard of evidence against Chea Ratha and her alleged accomplices,” he said.

Evidence given to the court during the investigation included recorded phone calls in which Chea Ratha threatened to kill In Soklyda’s relatives, phone logs for Chea Ratha and her co-defendants on the day of the attack, and a report confirming acid was found in the home of one of Chea Ratha’s associates.

Chea Ratha’s lawyer, Pich Vichheka, confirmed the hearing would take place, but would not say whether his client – believed to be abroad – would appear in person.

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