19-Year-Old Woman Killed In Acid Attack

A 19-year-old woman died Saturday night after highly corrosive acid was poured over her head and into her mouth by an attacker in Sihanoukville province, police and the victim’s family said yesterday.

The attack on Kruy Aing Chheng on Friday night is the seventh reported acid crime so far this year, and the second death reported in 2012.

“She had horrific injuries to her head and face, and the acid had melted her mouth away,” said Kim Pov, the victim’s aunt.

Kruy Aing Chheng was attacked with acid on a street in Sihanoukville’s Sangkat Buon commune at about 9 p.m. on Friday.

Ms. Pov said that after the attack occurred, Kruy Aing Chheng was transported by a friend to Kandal province’s Sa’ang district where her family lives. She was immediately brought to the district referral hospital for treatment but succumbed to her injuries less than 24 hours later.

Ms. Pov said Kruy Aing Chheng was buried yesterday during a ceremony at her family’s home in Sa’ang district.

Kruy Aing Chheng had been working at the Fortuna Hotel and Casino in Sihanoukville for the past month, Ms. Pov said, adding that she suspected the attacker was likely a man based in Phnom Penh with whom Kruy Aing Chheng had an acrimonious relationship with in the past.

Preah Sihanouk provincial police chief Tak Vantha said that an initial investigation into the acid killing was leading authorities to the conclusion that Kruy Aing Chheng’s death was the result of jealousy.

“We have initially found out that this is a love triangle issue,” he said, declining to comment further due to the ongoing investigation.

Several other police officials in Preah Sihanouk province said they had no information about the attack, despite the incident occurring in a public place.

“We don’t know anything yet,” deputy provincial police chief Kol Phally said.

A manager at the Fortuna Casino, who would only give his name as Panha, confirmed that Kruy Aing Chheng had worked as a card dealer, but declined to comment further.

“We haven’t seen her since the day before yesterday,” he said.

Friday’s attack follows the killing in March of Sim Yi, a 42-year-old man from Kompong Cham province, after his mistress doused him with acid while he lay sleeping.

The government in December last year adopted a new acid law, which allows for punishments of up to 30 years if the victim of an acid attack dies.

But the head of an organization that works with victims of acid attacks said yesterday that no one has yet been prosecuted under the acid crime law.

Jim Gollogly, CEO of the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity (CASC), said that while there had been fewer reported cases of acid attacks since the law was brought into force last year, there has been absolutely no sign that the law is being implemented.

In 2011, CASC received an average of two victims of acid attacks each month. This year, the organization has seen just six cases.

“But we’ve really seen no sign that the law is being implemented. There [have] been six cases since the law has been signed and nothing has happened. We’re keen to get someone arrested, prosecuted and sentenced and get the law looking like it’s being implemented,” Dr. Gollogly said.

“That’s not what seems to be happening at the moment,” he said.

Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodia Defenders Project, said the law was not being implemented due to a lack of political will.

“The law itself has no problems. But it’s the work of the executive to make sure it is implemented,” he said.

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