BATTAMBANG CITY- The trial of an unlicensed medic accused of infecting more than 270 people with HIV continued Tuesday, with 22 infected villagers providing testimony during the fourth day of hearings at the Battambang Provincial Court.
Yem Chrin, 56, stands charged with aggravated murder, intentionally transmitting HIV and operating without a medical license for his role in an HIV epidemic that hit Sangke district’s Roka commune late last year. Ten HIV-infected villagers, mostly elderly people, have since died.
Sangke district councilor Mok Saruon, 61, who testified Tuesday, told the court that he was “90 percent” sure Mr. Chrin, who is his neighbor, was responsible for his infection.
Echoing testimony from victims last week, Mr. Saruon said Mr. Chrin was the only doctor he could recall providing him with treatment.
“I was friendly with Yem Chrin. I had been asking for treatment from him for a long time already,” Mr. Saruon said outside of the courtroom following his testimony.
Asked if he had ever seen Mr. Chrin reuse syringes between treatments—which authorities assert is the cause of the outbreak—Mr. Saruon said he had never bothered to check.
“I never looked to see if he reused needles or syringes because I believed he was a good doctor.”
Contacted after the hearing, Mr. Chrin’s lawyer, Em Sovann, admitted to the possibility that his client hadn’t always followed proper medical procedure, but insisted the witnesses’ testimony failed to prove the charges laid against the unlicensed medic.
“My client had no intention to infect the people with HIV, but maybe he did not always update his treatment based on modern standards,” he said.
Mr. Chrin’s 60-year-old sister-in-law, Lay Thorn, required medical attention Tuesday after she fainted while exiting the court building during the lunch break.
After regaining consciousness, Ms. Thorn said she had felt “weak” after seeing her brother-in-law driven away in a prison truck.
“I got excited because I feel so bad for my brother because he is a good person…. He always helped the Roka villagers recover from their illnesses.”