Sunday, 18 May 2008

Ms. Mu Sochua Considers Acid Attacks to Be Crimes

Ms. Mu Sochua Considers Acid Attacks to Be Crimes That Cannot Be Condoned; There Is a Rumor Saying that Brigadier General Chea Ratha Has Been Removed from Her Position to Open an Inquest

Posted on 18 May 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 560

“With no law to define specifically the penalty for acid attacks, several officials said more or less the same, ‘There will be a trial of this case of an acid attack, based the the obvious damage which has been inflicted on the victim’s appearance.’

“However, the deputy secretary-general of the Sam Rainsy Party and former Minister of Women’s Affairs Ms. Mu Sochua said, ‘Acid attacks, which often target women, should be considered a crime which is heavier than just bodily injury.’

“This statement was made after there was an acid attack against Ms. In Soklida’s aunt, Ms. Ya Soknim, after there had been threats by phone from a deputy staff officer of the National Military Police, Ms. Chea Ratha, and after the arrest of the suspect Ea Puthy, accused to have used a weapon illegally.

“According to Ms. In Soklida’s statement from a hiding place in an interview with Radio Free Asia, she said clearly, ‘When living with Brigadier General Ms. Chea Ratha I felt scared already as if I was like a dead person, though I was alive.’

“Ms. In Soklida said, ‘The period that I had relations with Ms. Chea Ratha was since she was deputy head of the Phnom Penh police. Now she is in the Military Police under the command of [National Military Police commander] Sao Sokha.’

“Ms. In Soklida continued between sobs, ‘She has gone into hiding for five weeks, but few days ago, I saw the information in a newspaper, publishing the acid attack on my aunt, which causes me real pain.’

“Moreover, Ms. In Soklida said, ‘I know that they are searching for me at all my relatives’ houses. Furthermore, they threatened and insulted my relatives in many ways, though the relatives don’t know anything about me; but they accuse my relatives that they hide me.’
“What Ms. In Soklida said shows the way for the authorities at all levels to find the criminals who conducted an acid attack on Ms. Ya Soknim at 10:10 a.m. of 8 May 2008 in front of the RAC [?] clinic.

“Additionally, Ms. Ya Siyet, Ms. In Soklida’s mother, told journalists about this bad episode, ‘At the end of 2006, Ms. Chea Ratha started loving my daughter and took my daughter to live with her.’

“Then, when Ms. In Soklida hid herself from the hands of Ms. Chea Ratha, Ms. Ya Siyet said, ‘Ms. Chea Ratha was very angry and she accused In Soklida’s aunt – Ms. Ya Soknim who was attacked by acid – that she was the person who hides In Soklida.’

“Ms. Ya Siyet added that before the acid attack on the victim Ya Soknim, Ms. Chea Ratha and her followers had checked the victim’s house to find In Soklida, but they did not see her. At that time, Ms. Chea Ratha made a phone call to threaten the victim to return In Soklida to her, otherwise the whole family would not be able to live happily.

“Ms. Ya Siyet claimed that because Ms. Chea Ratha had threatened her younger sister very often, the victim decided to record Ms. Chea Ratha’s voice as evidence.

“It should be noted that on Wednesday, an arrest warrant for four suspects – who are all related to the acid attack on the victim Ya Soknim who is now being operated in Yuon [Vietnam] – was issued.

“[The director general of the National Police] Mr. Hok Lundy stated cautiously that he did not want to give detailed information to journalists, but he said that now, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court issued a warrant to arrest three or four suspects.

“Regarding this shocking case, [the Sam Rainsy Party deputy secretary-general and] the former Minister of Women’s Affairs Ms. Mu Sochua said on Wednesday, ‘Acid attacks which often target women should be considered to be a crime that is heavier than just bodily injury.’

“She stressed, ‘The victim can be considered to belong to a special group, similar to rape victims. And the crime is heavier than stabbing a person with a knife, because it leaves scars on the body, hurts the feeling, and creates mental problems.

“The Deputy Secretary-General also reminded the public that when she was Minister of Women’s Affairs in 2002, she had tried to create a law on domestic violence, which would have threatened ten years imprisonment for those who commit an acid attack.

“Separately, it is said that finally the deputy staff officer of the National Military Police, Ms. Chea Ratha, has been removed from her position; this shows the beginning of an inquest into the case of the acid attack on Ms. Ya Soknim.

“If this information is correct, we hope that the person who is behind the attack and the actual perpetrators will not be able to escape from the net of the law. However, we would like that the law will put serious penalties on those criminals, because, as Ms. Mu Sochua has already said, ‘An acid attack is more serious than stabbing a person with a knife, since it leaves scars on the body, it hurts the feeling, and it creates mental problems for the victims.”

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #156, 17.5.2008

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