Widower Grilled in Deadly Breast Implant Case; Owner at Large

The widower of a 36-year-old woman who died from complications caused by breast enhancement surgery last month was summoned for questioning in court last week, while the owner of the clinic has turned to national television in an attempt to clear his name.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has refused to provide any details of its ongoing investigation into the death, including whether the clinic owner and surgeon who conducted the surgery are being sought for questioning or arrest.

Ros Sokny, a television vendor from Kratie province, underwent a $3,000 breast implant surgery at De Beaute Clinic in Russei Keo district on November 18. She died three days later in a nearby clinic from septic shock after surgeons from De Beaute referred her for emergency treatment, according to her husband, Phai Veasna, 36.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court ordered the cosmetic surgery clinic to be temporarily closed the following day as it investigated the death, but both the owner of the clinic, Phe Thong, and the surgeon who conducted the surgery “escaped” before police could question them, officials said.

Health Ministry officials have since said the clinic would remain closed, as it was practicing cosmetic surgeries that were not covered by its license as a private clinic.

But when Mr. Veasna appeared in court for questioning last week, he said the investigation had taken a turn, with court officials having apparently backtracked on previous implications of malpractice.

“At first, they said the clinic had operated without standards,” he said. “Then, they said De Beaute Clinic is right—that they operated with standards, including the surgery, and that there’s no problem. They said I left the clinic on my own will.”

“It seems like there are irregularities,” he said of the about-face.

Mr. Veasna’s court appearance came a day after Dr. Thong sent a letter defending his clinic’s practices to Meas Rithy, a news anchor at Hang Meas TV. An explanation of the letter’s contents aired that day.

According to Mr. Rithy, the letter claimed that Ros Sokny had chosen to transfer to a less expensive clinic before she had fully recovered from her surgery, paying $38 rather than $70 for an overnight stay. Mr. Rithy was unable to provide a copy of the letter over the weekend.

Mr. Veasna said the claims were baseless. “We have money to do $3,000 worth of surgery and I don’t have $70 to pay per night?” he said. “It’s not true.”

Court spokesman Ly Sophana denied to comment, claiming that the investigation’s progress “must be secret.”

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