Military Police Official Sought in Acid Attack

A warrant has been issued for the arrest of National Military Police Deputy Chief of Staff Chea Ratha who is wanted in connection with a May 6 acid attack that seriously disfigured a Phnom Penh woman, police and court officials said Tuesday.

Warrants have also been issued for three Phnom Penh police officers for their alleged involvement in the attack, a police official said.

Deputy Phnom Penh Prosecutor Ek Cheng Huot said Tuesday that he had signed arrest warrants Saturday for Chea Ratha and a further three suspects.

“I have signed warrants to arrest four suspects who were involved in the acid attack and among them is Chea Ratha,” he said.

“Chea Ratha was the ringleader in the acid attack, and I have already sent the arrest warrant to [investigating] Judge Suon Samnang,” he added.

Suon Samnang could not be reached Tuesday.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source at the Interior Ministry’s internal security department said Tuesday that the three other suspects are Phnom Penh municipal penal police employed as bodyguards for Chea Ratha.

The official identified the suspects as Seak Chandy, Chan Ra, alias “Mab,” and Meas Mao.

Authorities have already charged Chea Ratha’s former assistant, municipal penal police officer Ear Puthea, who was arrested May 10 over the attack, with the illegal use of a weapon and unlawful arrest.

Chea Ratha, one of the few women in a senior position in the armed forces, has been out of the country since the time of the attack, but authorities said Tuesday that they are seeking to have her returned to Cambodia from Thailand.

Keo Vanthan, deputy director of Cambodia’s Interpol office, said he intended to seek Thai cooperation in Chea Ratha’s arrest.

“I will cooperate with Interpol in Thailand to arrest the suspect,” he said. “Chea Ratha is now in Thailand.”

“I can’t tell you anything more than that,” he added.

Officials at the Thai Embassy were unavailable for comment Tuesday evening, but Thailand and Cambodia have had an extradition treaty in place since 2001.

Reacting to news of the arrest warrant Tuesday, National Military Police Commander Sao Sokha said only that the case was the responsibility of the Interior Ministry’s penal police department, to which he referred further questions.

National penal police chief Mok Chito could not be reached.

Municipal police chief Touch Naruth said Tuesday that he was unfamiliar with the Phnom Penh penal police officers now wanted over the attack.

“I will check the list of the municipal police again about those names,” he said.

The family of 35-year-old Ya Soknim, who is currently undergoing treatment in Vietnam, accused Chea Ratha earlier this month of threatening them with violence after a family member ended a romantic relationship with the suspect in April.

Police said last week they were providing protection in Vietnam to the family of Ya Soknim.

A family member said Tuesday he was unaware of developments Ya Soknim’s health since doctors removed an eye and an ear damaged in the attack.

(Additional reporting by Douglas Gillison)

Related Stories

Latest News