Adoptive Mother May Face Charges

A Phnom Penh woman could face murder charges today after police are expected to file a criminal report with the Phnom Penh Municipal Court detailing the death of her 2-year-old adopted daughter.

Doctors at Kantha Bopha I hospital pronounced 2-year-old Sam Asrey dead Wednesday morning, in a case in that doctors, police and prosecutors say they suspect long-term child abuse.

Sam Asrey’s adoptive mother brought the girl to the Phnom Penh hospital Tuesday night around 10 pm with bruises on her face and around her eyes. Doctors suspect she was suffering a subdural hematoma—an internal head wound—and possibly a fractured skull,  Lam Eng Hour saidKantha Bopha I Depu­ty Director .

An autopsy concluded the battered child had at least two fractures in her skull, most likely the result of long-term abuse, Phnom Penh Prosecutor Nget Sarat said.

“The wounds showed she was beaten about the head, and often,” he said.

Three different neighbors went to police before Sam Asrey’s death to say they suspected the child was being abused, an official with the human rights group Licadho said. Another neighbor had filed a complaint earlier with Licadho, alleging abuse, the official said.

Nget Sarat said he has ordered police to prepare a criminal report and submit it to the courts today. Authorities are considering filing intentional murder charges against the adoptive mother, he added.

The woman allegedly told attending doctors she found Sam Asrey on the street, limp under a tree, and did not know the toddler, Lam Eng Hour said.

But the woman, a professional money-lender, had in fact adopted Sam Asrey as an infant because Sam Asrey’s mother—a woman known only as “Pov”—could not pay back a $100 debt, the Licadho official said.

“We were suspicious about her answer, and we told police about the case,” Lam Eng Hour said.

Although Sam Asrey was also in the care of three different nannies, authorities have focused their attention in the criminal investigation to the adoptive mother because of the explanation she gave doctors after bringing the girl to the hospital, Nget Sarat said.

Neighbors have told Licadho the girl plunged from a second-floor balcony, though human rights workers are investigating whether the toddler was pushed, the Licadho official said.

Sam Asrey slipped into a coma shortly after arriving at the hospital, Lam Eng Hour said. She never regained consciousness, the doctor said.

Reached for comment Thursday, Phnom Penh Penalty Police Deputy Chief Doung Sunchantha would only confirm his agency was investigating the case and would comply with Nget Sarat’s order.

“We are sending the report to the court tomorrow,” he said.

In the meantime, Bou Kim Yoeun, Sam Asrey’s nanny, has taken up a fund to help pay for the little girl’s funeral. Donations can be sent in care of Bou Kim Yoeun, #68, street 308, Phnom Penh, she said.

“She was so cute,” Bou Kim Yoeun said of the dead toddler. “The neighbors loved her very much.”


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