AUTHORITIES have released a woman accused of dousing a rival with a litre of acid, an official said, sparking criticism from the victim’s associates and a local rights group amid a string of recent violent attacks.
Lim Soma, 41, was released Wednesday morning – two days after she was arrested and accused of pouring a bottle filled with acid on a man following an argument in Prampi Makara district.
“I don’t understand why the police released her,” said businessman Kea Soheang, who identified the victim as 22-year-old Hor Tin, an employee at his shop.
Kea Soheang claimed that the attack was the result of a long-simmering dispute between the suspect’s family and his own. Lim Soma, he claimed, “ordered two of her employees to hold the victim down. Then she poured acid over him”.
Rather than laying charges against the suspect, however, authorities have urged the two parties to reach a monetary agreement outside the court system.
“The victim needs the perpetrator to pay him US$10,000 for compensation,” said Soam Sovann, the district’s governor. “But the perpetrator wants to pay only $5,000.”
District police and officials with Phnom Penh Municipal Court declined to talk about the case when contacted Wednesday.
Lim Soma, a dentist, admitted to the attack when reached by The Post Wednesday – but she insisted she never used acid.
“The liquid that I poured over him is the water you use to make your teeth look white. It is not acid,” Lim Soma said.
She said she only doused the victim with the liquid in order to break up an argument between him and her sister.
“The victim and his boss are trying to fabricate false evidence in order to accuse me,” she said.
The incident follows a string of acid attacks in December that sparked concern among rights groups and organisations that help victims of acid attacks.
“The police should not have released the perpetrator,” said Am Sam Ath, senior monitor at local rights group Adhoc.
“They should have sent her to court.”
He suggested the case was part of an alarming trend that has often seen the vicious attacks go unpunished.
“It is rare for perpetrators of acid attacks to be arrested and face court action,” he said.
“Perpetrators should face maximum punishment.”
The Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity counted at least five attacks in the Kingdom during December alone – a figure that represents roughly half of the attacks the group had tallied for the entire year up until that point, said spokesman Ziad Samman.