Perpetrator warned victim: ‘If I can’t have you, no one will have you’
A man doused a mother and her 3-year-old son with acid on Saturday evening at the victim’s hair dressing salon and house in Koh Kong province’s Mondol Seima district, police said yesterday.
Ny Thon, 42, attacked widower Kim Leang, 29, with the acid in apparent revenge for her having recently broken off her engagement to him, district police chief Nhem Dara said. The acid also hit the woman’s son Poleh Rithy Uthdom, who was standing nearby when his mother was attacked, Mr Dara said.
“The perpetrator threw acid on her head. So, from her ears to the bottom [of her body] was covered in acid,” the police chief said. “Her son sustained burns to both his legs below the knees,” he said.
The suspect, who is still at large, went to Ms Leang’s house at about 9:30 pm on Saturday to collect his motorcycle and a necklace he had given her. While at the house, he threw a plastic bottle full of acid over Ms Leang, Mr Dara said.
The pair had argued in the past, and the man acted out of jealousy, he added.
“We are investigating the case, and we will get the perpetrator soon.”
Dr Nuon Savath, who treated the mother and son at Koh Kong provincial referral hospital, said that Ms Leang received burns to 60 percent of her body and her son had burns on 20 percent.
“They were both trembling when they arrived at the hospital that night,” Dr Savath said. “We are not sure what kind of acid it was, but it was not very strong. It could have been battery acid.”
Ms Leang was burnt on her face, ears, head, chest, hands and legs while the toddler had burns on his legs and right hand, he added.
Dr Horng Lairapo, chief of legal and medical units at the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity, said that the mother and son were the 18th and 19th victims of acid attacks and accidents so far this year.
“This is the first acid attack in Koh Kong province in recent years,” Dr Lairapo said, noting that the other most recent acid attacks took place in Kompong Cham province and Phnom Penh.
Staff from the survivor’s charity will bring the mother and son to their center in Phnom Penh for further treatment either today or tomorrow, he said.
In Kongchit, provincial coordinator for rights group Licadho, said that Ms Leang told him yesterday that her attacker was jealous of the male customers who visited her hairdressing salon.
“The perpetrator once threatened that if he could not have her then no-one could have her,” Mr Kongchit said. “Police must arrest the perpetrator quickly or it could set a bad example for other people who may use acid in disputes.”
It is now nearly one and a half years since the government began the process of drafting a law to deal with acid crimes.
In a draft of the law released in October, perpetrators and accomplices to acid crimes would face sentences of between 20 years and life in prison. The draft also contained provisions on the use, management and transportation of acid.
Phay Siphan, Council of Ministers spokesman, said the draft law will be discussed at the next Council of Minister meeting.
“It is cruel. It is uncivilized,” he said.
“The acid law should be put in place as soon as possible and implementation taken seriously.”
Nineteen women and 17 men were victims of acid attacks nationwide in 2010, according to the acid survivors charity.
(Additional reporting by Alice Foster)