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Healer charged for unintentional killing

A container carrying the contents of a traditional tree root medicine, designed to treat asthma, that is believed to have poisoned two people, killing one, on February 14. Photo supplied
A container carrying the contents of a traditional tree root medicine, designed to treat asthma, that is believed to have poisoned two people, killing one, on February 14. Photo supplied

Healer charged for unintentional killing

A traditional healer from Kampot was charged with unintentional murder late Wednesday, after one of his asthma remedies allegedly killed one man and hospitalised another.

The healer, Khan Sophal, could face up to three years in prison after a batch of tree root medicine – meant to alleviate breathing difficulties – allegedly claimed a life on February 14.

According to Sou Bunthoeun, deputy police chief in charge of crime of in Teuk Chhou district, Sam Vanna, 60, and a man known only by the name Huot, 50, fell victim to the poisonous product after mixing it with rice wine and drinking it alongside a meal of dog meat.

Both men began vomiting violently and were sent to a hospital in Kampot, which did not have the facilities to treat them and transferred them to a hospital in Vietnam. Vanna died on the way, while Huot arrived in serious condition.

During questioning, Sophal said he prepared wild poisonous tree roots called eoung chhean, or kao, for Vanna, claiming heinstructed him to put the roots in rice wine for 10 days before serving, warning that “if you drink it immediately, you will die”. Sophal claimed Vanna was poisoned because he did not follow the healer’s advice.

Vanna’s son Chin Sovannarith yesterday said that his father’s friend was “lucky” to survive, and he had a doctor test the roots in rice wine to confirm their poisonous content.

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