The trial of an unlicensed medic accused of infecting more than 270 villagers with HIV continued Wednesday at the Battambang Provincial Court, with deputy prosecutor Heng Luy calling 25 HIV-infected villagers to testify during the daylong hearing.
In an effort to quickly move through the lengthy witness list, Presiding Judge Yich Chheanavy adjusted court procedure Wednesday, allowing Yem Chrin’s defense counsel to be the first to pose questions to the witnesses followed by perfunctory questioning by Judge Chheanavy and her two co-judges.
Mr. Chrin has been charged with aggravated murder for his role in a mass outbreak of HIV in Sangke district’s Roka commune, which came to light in December last year. Ten villagers have since died of HIV-related illnesses.
Authorities say Mr. Chrin, who regularly provided injections and IVs to his patients during house visits, reused syringes between treatments causing the virus to be transmitted from one villager to the next.
If convicted, the 56-year-old medic, who is also charged with operating without a medical license and intentionally transmitting HIV, faces life in prison.
In her testimony Wednesday, Roeum Sreyra, 25, told the court that she believed Mr. Chrin, who had treated her since she was a child, was to blame for her infection as she had never received treatment from another doctor.
Ms. Sreyra, who is unmarried, said she was seeking compensation from Mr. Chrin because the virus has had a devastating impact on her life.
“I demand $7,000 from him because I think I will not have a good life in the future and my reputation has been hurt,” she said after her testimony. “I am single and I think no one dares to marry me now.”
Following Wednesday’s hearing, Em Sovann, Mr. Chrin’s lawyer, said that the aggravated murder charge leveled against his client was unjustified.
“My client didn’t torture any of the victims or abuse any of the victims,” he said.