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Appeals Court Postpones Acid Attack Case

The Court of Appeals on Friday postponed a hearing to decide whether a former military police officer, recently released from jail, should stand trial for an alleged acid attack.

The former brigadier general, Chea Ratha, was released, along with six suspected accomplices, in August, but her alleged victim, Ya Soknim, 39, filed an appeal to have her tried.

Chea Ratha had a reported love affair with Ya Soknim’s niece, beauty queen In Solida, which ended in 2008 and was allegedly the cause of the attack, which occured May 8, 2008, outside Phnom Penh’s Tuol Tumpong market.

The court was forced to postpone the hearing because the lawyers of the defendants were not present, said Seng Sivutha, chief judge of the Appeals Court. “We will seek the lawyers for the suspects for an upcoming hearing,” to be held later this month or next, he added.

Ya Soknim, who has gone into hiding since Chea Ratha’s release, said she was “disappointed” with Friday’s delay.

“I want the Appeals Court to hold a hearing against Chea Ratha…sooner and sooner, providing real justice to me as an acid attack victim,” she said.

Am Sam Ath, an investigator for the rights group Licadho, said the postponement was legal, but he hoped the next hearing would “provide real justice.”

“If the Appeals Court upholds the [release] verdict of the Phnom Penh court, this is a new instance of impunity in Cambodia,” he said.

Licadho reported 12 acid attacks in 2008, with 14 victims. No suspects were brought to trial.