The Supreme Court trial of an unlicensed doctor who spread HIV/AIDS to 296 people in Battambang province in 2015, 30 of whom have since died, was delayed on Wednesday as the accused and his lawyer was absent.
Yem Chrin, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison in December 2015, saw his conviction upheld at the Appeal Court last year while trying to get his jail time reduced by 10 years.
Chrin was arrested in Sangke district’s Roka village after it came to light that he caused the HIV outbreak by reusing unsterilised needles after treating an infected patient.
Many of the infected were members of Chrin’s family, and three HIV-positive victims came to the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
A woman who asked to remain anonymous said she was disappointed by the delay and that she had saved money to come and witness the trial.
Describing the circumstances of her infection she said: “I had a motorbike accident and suffered a small injury. I went to get an injection at his [Chrin’s] house. When the information about the outbreak become well known to the public, I got tested but it was negative.
“After I delivered my last baby three months later, I took another blood test and found out that I was HIV positive and my child was too. I was in such a state of shock and despair that I couldn’t even start my motorbike at the health centre.
“He spends his money on a lawyer, why doesn’t he spend that money to help the victims?” she asked.
She appealed to the public to provide humanitarian assistance to all the victims who are forced to struggle with the incurable disease for the rest of their lives.
NGO Buddhism for Development spokesman Am Chamroeun confirmed on Wednesday that 30 of Chrin’s 296 victims have died. He said the latest death last week involved a 72-year-old woman.
Additionally, three infected children have died since the Battambang outbreak.
Chamroeun said his NGO has 20 facilitators, including monks and Buddhist laymen and women, who provide counselling and support to the community. They urge people in Battambang not to discriminate against those who are HIV positive.
“Discrimination still exists, although it is less than before,” he said, urging more support for the victims.
Roka commune health centre director Ber Beng Sor said on Wednesday that the victims visited to take medicine regularly. Many are still healthy and following their treatment regimen.