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Acid Attack Victim To Appeal Suspects’ Release

The family of an acid attack victim has vowed to fight on in court, despite living in fear and hiding since a recent court decision to release the alleged perpetrators.

Ya Soknim, 39, who was assaulted in May 2008, said Monday that her whole family has limited its movement since the Phnom Penh court dropped charges against a former military police officer, Chea Ratha, and six alleged accomplices.

“For fear of our family’s safety, we regularly change our hiding place,” Ya Soknim said, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

The family has decided to appeal the release, despite the appearance of strangers who seem to be watching them following last week’s decision.

Ya Soknim took burn damage to nearly half her body, after her niece, In Soklyda, a former beauty queen, broke off a love affair with Chea Ratha, a former military police deputy chief of staff.

In Soklyda, who also appeared on “Hello VOA,” said that since she left Chea Ratha, most of her family has not been able to work, as they continue to move around to stay safe.

“We will continue to take our case to the Appeal Court, even though we know that we have little hope,” she said. “Our lives are in the hands of the perpetrators. We now live in fear. Our lives are meaningless. We are only waiting for our dying day.”

Chea Ratha was reportedly on a trip overseas for a medical check-up when the attack took place and has herself been in hiding for fear of arrest. However, In Soklyda said the female officer had made threatening phone calls to her relatives.

“She threatened and mocked at my aunt’s suffering,” In Soklyda said. “It was the same threats as before I left her.”