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Doctor’s 25-year term upheld over spread of HIV

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times Share:
A woman cries after testing positive for HIV in Roka commune in 2014. KT/Alex Consiglio

The Supreme Court on Friday upheld a 25-year jail term imposed on an unlicensed doctor who infected more than 200 villagers with HIV in Battambang province’s Roka commune in 2014.

Presiding Judge Nil Nonn announced the verdict against Yem Chrin, 62, who was convicted by the Battambang Provincial Court in December 2015.

“The Supreme Court has decided to uphold the Appeal Court’s verdict on September 8, 2017,” Judge Nonn said.

Mr Chrin was convicted of torture and cruel behaviour resulting in death, intentionally spreading HIV and practising medicine without a licence.

Mr Chrin declined to comment after the Supreme Court delivered the verdict on Friday.

Sam Chamroeun, his lawyer, yesterday said that both he and his client regretted the Supreme Court decision and said the jail sentence was too harsh.

“My client is old and if he is sentenced to 25 years, he could die in prison,” he said. “We had asked the court to consider sentencing him to between ten and 15 years, which we think is fair.”

Hong Vibol, one of Mr Chrin’s victims from Roka commune, yesterday said he was happy with the Supreme Court’s final decision, which demonstrates that justice has been provided to victims of the HIV infection caused by negligence.

Police escort Yem Chrin at the Supreme Court on Friday. KT/Pann Rachana

“I’m glad there is justice for the victims, even though a 25-year prison sentence seems to be too little for someone who infected more than 200 victims,” he said.

In 2014, there was an outbreak of HIV in Roka commune and nearly 300 villagers were found to be infected after they received treatment from Mr Chrin.

The mass HIV infection occurred because the unlicensed doctor reused syringes, needles and other medical equipment to treat many patients, authorities said.

Bi Beng So, Roka referral hospital deputy director, said that up to April this year, 32 people have so far died among the 293 who were infected with HIV in 2014.

He noted that the government and the Health Ministry have been paying attention to the HIV-infected victims, but some do not go for follow up health check-ups or use their medication regularly.

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