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Roka doctor asks court for a shorter sentence

Yem Chrin, an unlicensed medic responsible for an HIV outbreak in Battambang, is escorted out of the Appeal Court yesterday.
Yem Chrin, an unlicensed medic responsible for an HIV outbreak in Battambang, is escorted out of the Appeal Court yesterday. Pha Lina

Roka doctor asks court for a shorter sentence

An unlicensed doctor sentenced to 25 years in prison for causing an outbreak of HIV in Battambang province’s Roka commune yesterday asked the Appeal Court to reduce his sentence to 15 years.

Yem Chrin, 56, was arrested in 2014 in Sangke district’s Roka village and sentenced in December 2015. The 300 victims who contracted HIV were between 3 and 80 years old at the time they were diagnosed, and 22 have died, including three children, said Be Peng Sor, of the Roka commune health centre.

Chrin yesterday admitted to reusing unsterilised needles after treating a HIV-positive patient, who has since died. “I first kept the used needles separate,” he said. “But later, I put them together, so I confused them.”

He said his mother-in-law, nieces, and other relatives were also infected with HIV. One of the five people who represented the victims yesterday said a total of 10 of his relatives were infected, including his father-in-law and his wife.

“I admit my mistake and plead the court to reduce my punishment by 10 years,” Chrin said.

Another villager, who was not identified at the hearing, said patients were struggling to access medicine while also working to support themselves.

“They cannot leave the village to earn a living far from home, because there isn’t enough medicine to take. The government should create jobs for HIV-positive people,” she said.

Defence lawyer Ouk Vandeth maintained that his client had no intention to harm his patients and should be forgiven. A verdict is due September 8.

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