The Council of Ministers is playing down a grotesque acid attack on a young actress
by the wife of its undersecretary of state and former Hun Sen advisor, Svay Sitha.
The victim, Tan Chhar Marina, was yesterday described by spokesman Khieu Thavika
for the Council as his "second wife".
Last Sunday, Dec 5, at about 4:00pm Sitha's "first wife", Chum Teav Svai
Sitha, went to a small food market near Olympic Market accompanied by two bodyguards
and found Marina.
Witnesses said the three people attacked Marina who was thrown to the ground by Chum
Teav Svay Sitha and one of the bodyguards; at that point the other guard went back
to their car, removed a 5 litre container of nitric acid and poured it on the victim's
head and body.
Marina then started thrashing around and screaming for help. In the process much
of the acid ended up on the attackers.
Police who investigated the case were somewhat amused that a lot of the acid soaked
into one of the bodyguard's crotch. He then ran off screaming tearing off his clothes.
There have been subsequent reports that the acid burned off his genitals.
Meanwhile Chum Teav Svay Sitha who had also been splashed with acid appealed to stall
holders for help.
A police officer present shortly after the attack said that bystanders refused to
assist the attackers and would not give them water to wash off the acid.
The three attackers are now believed to be in Calmette hospital being treated for
acid burns and are under constant protection from bodyguards.
In contrast Marina is in a dark and filthy room in Kosamak hospital. She has acid
burns covering 50 percent of her body including her head and torso.
A man in a military style uniform but without insignia is in the room with her and
only allows medical staff in to give injections at specified times.
When asked who he worked for he said the Government but refused to say which branch.
He then claimed to be her brother.
He said she did not have serious injuries but refused access to confirm this.
He said no-one knew who did the attack and the family had not filed a complaint to
Medical staff said Marina was been given injections of penicillin and a pain killer
adding that she had been moved into a private room at the cost of 5000 riel per day
but could not say who was paying for her medical costs. They added that doctors were
only present at the hospital in the mornings.
Police have rushed documentation on the case through to the Court apparently unwilling
to be embroilled in the affair.
Following the attack there was immediate intervention in the case by the Government.
Police Inspector Lok Lon said they were forced to return a car they were holding
in evidence because of "intervention from the top level," and he was keen
to be rid of responsiblity for the matter.
"I have already sent the documents to the Court."
Spokesman for the Council of Ministers Khieu Thavika said that the matter was a personal
one "for the first and second wife to resolve."
He said Svay Sitha would not be suspended from his job unless there was a prosecution
but this was not a priority. He said the priority was to save the victim's life.
Though it is uncertain of how that statement could be recconciled with the standard
of her current medical treatment.
Deputy head of the Municipal Court Nop Sophon confirmed they recieved the documents
from the police relating to the case but were too busy dealing with problems in the
court following Hun Sen's order to rearrest criminals deemed to have been improperly
dealt with by the judiciary because of corruption to look into the matter.