A 44-year-old Kampong Cham woman accused of fatally dousing her sleeping husband with acid was in court on Friday for questioning.
The suspect, Pin Chea, admitted throwing acid in her husband’s face in the early hours of Tuesday morning in their Krouch commune home, according to a police report from Kampong Cham deputy provincial chief of crime Heng Vuthy.
“She confessed two reasons: first was that her husband had another woman and second he owed money to others and let her pay the debt,” Vuthy said.
Chea told police she purchased the acid in Phnom Penh and transported it in a water bottle.
“We did not know the type of acid and how much because she threw it away and we could not find the bottle,” Vuthy said. “She said she poured it on his face while he was sleeping.”
While relatives transported her husband, Min Nuon, a 41-year-old construction worker, to seek medical care, Chea fled, according to commune police. Nuon died en route to hospital.
A factory worker, Chea was on the run for more than two days when she was arrested by police in Sra Nge commune, in Prey Chhor district, on Thursday, authorities said.
Vuthy said Nuon had taken a “second wife” in Kampong Speu – a not uncommon occurrence among Cambodian men that is not a legal union, and also had been jailed for drugs in the past.
According to Mon Mai, Krouch commune chief, the couple had come to him last year requesting a divorce.
“But I could not and I made compromise for them,” he said. “The wife wanted to divorce but the husband did not want to.”
“Later on, the wife beat the husband and the husband ran away to have another wife in Kampong Speu province,” Mai said, though the couple was living together once again at the time of the attack.
It’s not the first time a refusal to grant a divorce has had fatal consequences. Earlier this year, a Kampot man was accused of killing his wife the morning after she had sought a divorce from a local commune chief.
Chea was being questioned in court on Friday and has not been charged. Although Vuthy would not speculate on the charges, he described the matter as “a murder case”.
It is the first reported acid attack in Cambodia so far this year. While such attacks have seen a decline in recent years following the introduction of the Acid Law in 2012 – which restricted the sale of certain chemicals and introduced harsher sentences on perpetrators – there were at least six acid attacks in the Kingdom last year, although none were fatal.