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Court Lambasted for Dropping Acid Attack Case

The victim of a 2008 acid attack victim jointed local human rights groups on Wednesday in decrying a court decision to drop charges against a former military police woman and her subordinates.

Ya Soknim, 39, told reporters at Licadho’s office Wednesday she suffered for injustice, and worried for her safety and revenge after they were freed from charges.

“For people without money, it is not necessary to complain,” she said. The court “sees the poor and vulnerable people and lets them live in misfortune.”

Ya Soknim was assaulted in May 2008, after her niece, In Soklyda, a former beauty queen, had an allegedly forced love affair with Chea Ratha, a former military police deputy chief of staff.

Chea Ratha was not available for comment.

In Soklyda told reporters Wednesday she would have “remorse my whole life,” seeing the scars of her aunt’s acid attack. She claims Chea Ratha “told me she loved me and forced me to live with her for more than two years…after I refused to love her.”

“When I open my eyes, I see my aunt’s scar from the acid attack,” she said.

“How can I live, if the court has no trial, dropped the charge and there’s no justice because of no evidence?” she said. “In fact we have evidence. My family cannot live in this country if the offenders go free.”

Naly Pilorge, director of the rights group Licadho, called the court’s decision “yet another blatant display of Cambodia’s rampant impunity and culture of brutal violence.”

“What is so shocking in the case is the judges’ apparent total disregard of the evidence against Chea Ratha and her alleged accomplices,” she said. “Court rulings like this only ensure that acid attacks will continue, because the perpetrators are not brought to justice.”

Ou Virak, executive director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said the court had shown a lack of independence in prosecuting high-ranking officials.

“As long as the courts operate at the direction of the Cambodian government, rule of law will remain an empty slogan at donor conferences,” he said.