A former Phnom Penh police officer and one-time assistant to a senior military police commander has been arrested in connection with last week’s acid attack on a woman in Chamkar Mon district, Deputy National Police Commissioner Sok Phal said Tuesday.
Ear Puthea, 34, was arrested on Saturday, said Sok Phal, adding that the suspect was a police officer and previously an assistant to Military Police Deputy Chief of Staff Chea Ratha.
Sok Phal said Ear Puthea is now in the custody of the Interior Ministry’s penal police, and authorities are seeking three to four additional suspects involved in the brutal attack.
“The suspect, Ear Puthea, is a former municipal police officer and used to be an assistant of Chea Ratha when she was deputy municipal police chief,” Sok Phal said.
He declined to comment further as the investigation is ongoing. It was uncertain Tuesday whether Ear Puthea is still a Phnom Penh police officer.
Family members of 35-year-old Ya Soknim, who was doused with acid May 6, alleged last week that a high-ranking official had threatening violence following a lover’s quarrel with the victim’s niece.
Chea Ratha, one of the few females in a senior position in the Cambodia security forces, could not be reached for comment and is reportedly traveling outside Cambodia.
National Military Police Commander Sao Sokha said Tuesday that he was too busy to talk to a reporter.
Deputy Municipal Prosecutor Ek Cheng Huot said the case had been referred to him at 5 pm Tuesday.
“I did get the documents from the police late this afternoon. I haven’t examined them yet,” he said.
“I let the police take the suspect back to the Interior Ministry,” he said, adding that he expected to recommend charges soon but declined to say which charges authorities were considering.
Interior Ministry penal police chief Mok Chito, Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak and Municipal Police Chief Touch Naruth could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
An unnamed relative of Ya Soknim said Tuesday the acid attack victim was continuing to receiving medical attention outside of Cambodia.
“The victim is in the hospital right now,” he said, declining to answer further questions.
The attack reportedly caused severe burns to Ya Soknim’s head and chest.
(Additional reporting by Prak Chan Thul)