Supreme Court Upholds Acid Attack Sentences

The Supreme Court yesterday rejected the appeals of fugitive former military police commander Chea Ratha and five accomplices for their role in a 2008 acid attack.

But the six convicted over the attack are no closer to serving their 15- to 18-year jail sentences, with Interpol’s Cambodian office director saying yesterday that there was no new information about the fugitives’ whereabouts.

In November, the Court of Appeal found that Ms Ratha, 45, ordered an attack on Ya Soknim in May 2008, after she became enraged when her lover, Ms Soknim’s niece In Solyda, fled what she claimed was a coercive sexual relationship.

Ms Ratha, Meas Mao, 41, and Seak Chandy, 28–all of whom are wanted by Interpol–were each sentenced to 18 years in prison on attempted murder charges, while Ea Puthea, 34, Saing Savuth, 30, and Seak Sophal, 26, were sentenced to 15 years in prison for conspiracy.

Yesterday, Supreme Court Judge Khem Pon said the sentences would stand, including the $100,000 in compensation owed by the six fugitives.

“The Supreme Court rejects the final submission of Chea Ratha’s lawyers, Nach Try and Pen Sonsamey, and upholds the verdict of the Court of Appeal,” Judge Pon said.

Earlier, Mr Try had told the court that his client’s conviction was “unfair,” as Ms Ratha had been in China at the time of the acid attack.

“There is no evidence to sentence my client Chea Ratha. She was not here when the incident happened,” he said.

Ms Soknim’s lawyer Oung Sopheak, however, said the compensation should be increased to $1 million, because his client had significant medical expenses to pay for.

Statements from Ms Soknim and Ms Ratha were read in court yesterday, though it remains unexplained where the former military police commander’s statement was sent from.

Immediately following the attack, authorities said they believed Ms Ratha had fled to Thailand.

Mr Try told the court that Ms Ratha communicated with him by telephone, but when questioned by a reporter after the hearing, he said he was only in contact with his client through her aunt.

Major General Keo Vannthan, the director of Cambodia’s Interpol office, said yesterday there was “no information so far” about the whereabouts of Ms Ratha.

Maj Gen Vannthan said he had not been in contact with Ms Ratha’s lawyers to find out if he knew where his client was hiding.

When asked why he had not questioned them, he said he was too busy to speak to a reporter and hung up the telephone.

(Additional reporting by Mark Worley)


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