A 40-year-old garment worker was sentenced to life in prison by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday for killing a 20-year-old woman by dousing her with acid after she learned her husband had been having an affair with the victim.
Presiding Judge Nou Veasna told the courtroom that Sroeun Nann, 40, was found guilty of premeditated murder.
“The court sentenced the accused, named Sroeun Nann, 40, Khmer, to life in prison,” Judge Veasna said. He could not be contacted for comment on the decision.
Ms. Nann was arrested on March 6 shortly after attacking Meas Vanny, a security guard at the Ho Hsin Tai shoe factory on Veng Sreng Street.
At the time, police said a woman carrying a bucket approached Meas Vanny as she was leaving her rented apartment in Pur Senchey district’s Choam Chao commune at about 5:30 a.m. The woman threw the bucket of acid on Meas Vanny, causing severe burns to her face and body.
The victim was sent to Calmette Hospital, but succumbed to her wounds about two weeks later.
Shortly after the attack, police questioned Chun Khoeun, 32, Meas Vanny’s fellow security guard at the factory, who admitted he had been cheating on his wife, Ms. Nann, with his colleague.
Ms. Nann was then quickly arrested and admitted she had carried out the attack, according to police.
After her sentencing Monday, Ms. Nann remained emotionless as she was escorted out of the courtroom, declining to comment to a reporter.
San Sou Dalen, a lawyer from rights group Licadho, which represented the victim, said that even though Ms. Nann admitted to the court during her trial that what she did was wrong, the viciousness of the crime warranted the sentence.
“It is acceptable and appropriate for what she has committed,” Ms. Sou Dalen said. “[A]cid causes a lot of suffering before death.”
Speaking by telephone from Pursat province, Sin Sinoeun, Meas Vanny’s father, said his daughter’s death has been a shock to him and his five other children.
“I feel sorry every day. If my daughter were still alive, she would earn money to support me and my family,” he said. “Before, we could see each other’s faces, but now, I can only see a picture.”
After the government passed a law on acid attacks in January 2012, followed by a sub-decree a year later regulating the sale and use of acid, Cambodia has seen a dramatic drop in the number of attacks.
Erin Bourgois, former project manager at the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity, an NGO that assists acid attack victims that began scaling back its operations last year, said that despite the decrease in attacks, the government’s implementation of the sub-decree remains lackluster.
“Given the severity of this case and the extensive burns to the victim, it indicates that the perpetrator—Sroeun Nann—was able to procure a large amount of concentrated acid,” she said in an email.
“I find this very troubling and signals that the government needs to do more to enforce the Sub-decree …to prevent further attacks.”
(Additional reporting by Chris Mueller)