Yem Chrin, the unlicensed doctor who spread HIV to hundreds of villagers in Battambang province in 2014, yesterday requested that the Court of Appeal reduce his 25-year sentence to 10 years because he did not intend to spread the virus.
Mr Chrin, 58, was sentenced to 25 years in jail by the Battambang provincial court for spreading the virus to at least 300 villagers in Roka commune by reusing syringes on multiple patients.
He was convicted in December 2015 of torture and cruel behaviour resulting in death, intentionally spreading HIV and practising medicine without a licence.
Speaking during his appeal court trial yesterday, Mr Chrin said he never intended to spread the virus.
“I appealed because the provincial court sentence was too serious because I do not intend to spread the virus to people,” he said.
“Sometimes, I reused syringes on multiple patients, but I do not intend to infect villagers and I regret what happened because I did not ever imagine that it would happen.
“Please judges, reduce my sentence to only 10 years in jail because the sentence of 25 years in jail is very serious.”
Afterwards, villagers who travelled from Roka commune to represent those who were infected pleaded with the court to uphold the provincial court ruling.
Loeum Lorm, 54, said he and his family only ever used Mr Chrin’s services in the commune.
“I was never concerned that I would have HIV, but when the breakout happened and I went to check, the result was positive,” Mr Lorm said.
“I don’t know whether he had the intention to transmit the virus or not, but 10 members of my family were infected, so please, implement the law.”
Sam Lorm, 83, another representative of villagers, said that he and his wife were infected with HIV.
“I think that the original sentence is too small because more than 300 villagers were infected with HIV,” he said. “Nowadays, life in the commune is like living on a landmine.”
Prosecutor Sa Kanharith reminded the judges that Mr Chrin confessed to his malpractice and was operating without a licence.
“Moreover, when he knew that villagers got infected with the HIV virus, he called to tell his wife to burn the medical evidence, so he had the intention to hide the truth,” said Ms Kanharith.
“Please judges, uphold the verdict of the Battambang provincial court.”
Thorn Samhuy, a lawyer for Mr Chrin, said no concrete evidence had been produced to link his client’s work to the spread of the virus and his conviction was based solely on the complaints of villagers.
“I request the judges to please change the sentence on him,” said Mr Samhuy.
Presiding Judge Yet Molin said a verdict would be delivered on September 8.