Family Member Says No Complaint Filed In Acid Attack

The family of Tang Samarina will not file a court complaint against the key suspect in the December acid attack which left the 18-year-old karaoke singer dis­figured, a member of her immediate family said Tuesday.

“[We] have no plan to file a complaint,” said the relative, who asked not to be named.

The pursuit of the suspect now depends on the ability and willingness of the Municipal Court prosecutor to bring the wife of a top official before the law, human rights workers said.

The suspect is Khuon Sophal, who is married to Undersecretary of State for Cabinet Svay Sitha. She is being sought by police on charges of attempted murder.

Interviewed at Kossamak Hos­pital Tuesday, Tang Sama­rina’s relative said filing a complaint against Khuon Sophal will further damage the reputation of Svay Sitha, who the relative said has agreed to provide support for Tang Samarina.

“If we file a complaint against his wife maybe it will destroy his reputation,” the family member said. “We do not want to complain against him because he has decided to [support] her forever.”

Lek Vannak, the city’s judicial police chief, said Monday that Svay Sitha had agreed to support the victim.

He also said Tang Samarina’s family has not lodged a complaint against Khuon Sophal, who police say is responsible for the Dec 6 daylight attack near Phnom Penh’s Olympic Market. Police allege she was jealous of her husband’s affair and attacked the mistress with the help of two bodyguards.

“The problem has become a family issue,” said Lek Vannak. “Svay Sitha has agreed to feed her forever and the family does not want to talk with police. The family will not say anything against Svay Sitha’s wife….Some people who have good relations with Svay Sitha try to protect [Khuon Sophal]. This is why the case is getting darker and darker.”

According to Tang Samarina’s relative, it will depend on police and court officials to pursue Khuon Sophal—who police say is likely outside the country.

“All I have to say is it will be according to the law if they decide to keep her in prison,” said the relative.

But two Cambodian human rights workers warned Tuesday that a refusal by the injured party to make a complaint has traditionally ended court investigations here.

Thun Saray, director of local human rights group Adhoc, said Tuesday that Cambodian criminal law stipulates the court prosecutor must pursue the case until its end, but he noted this rarely happens when powerful people are suspects.

“This is a problem of the im­proper implementation of the law,” Thun Saray said. “Especially when they are powerful or rich people. They are rarely brought to the court because the prosecutors worry about their safety and what will happen to them after the case.”

Said the other human rights worker, “But the law is very clear that it is the court prosecutor who presses charges whether there is a complaint from the family or not.”

Interior Ministry Spokesman Khieu Sopheak maintained Tues­day the family’s decision not to press charges will not affect the police and court process because an arrest warrant has been issued by the court and received by police. The general said the court prosecutor is responsible for bringing Khuon Sophal to trial to determine if she committed a crime.

“The court has issued the warrant and the warrant must be implemented [and]…the court must play the role of the prosecution,” said Khieu Sopheak.

Recovering slowly, Tang Sama­rina is now able to walk around the small hospital room where she has been confined for almost a month.

The family member said Svay Sitha is providing Tang Samarina with food, medical treatment and four bodyguards and has visited her daily since the attack.

No public comment has been made by Svay Sitha or his wife since the attack.


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