Supreme Court hears appeal of physician for transmitting HIV

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Yem Chren is escorted out of Battambang Provincial Court after being found guilty in 2015. Victoria Mørck Madsen

The Supreme Court on September 20 heard the appeal of a physician convicted of transmitting HIV to 200 Roka villagers in Roka commune in Sangke district, in Battambang province in 2014.

Yem Chren, who has been sentenced to 25 years in jail by the Battambang provincial court told the Supreme Court: “I had no intention to do it, so please lower my sentence.”

Defence lawyer Sam Chamroeun said the Appeal court had assumed that his client’s mistake had caused some Roka villagers to die of HIV, but the mistake was unintentional [and not premeditated].

He claimed that the Health Department had failed to conduct a thorough investigation which caused his client to receive a heavy sentence.

“The court should lower the sentence since the HIV transmission was caused by a technical error. This problem might not have had occurred if technical officials conducted thorough and regular inspections at each hospital.

“My client would not have been sentenced for years if such inspection had been carried out to prevent this kind of problem from happening,” Chamroeun said.

Chren was charged by the Battambang provincial court on three counts under Article 18 and 50 of the Law on the Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS which includes the intentional spreading of HIV to others, committing murder through cruel actions under Article 205 of the Criminal Code, and opening a clinic without legal permission from the Ministry of Health.

Apart from the 25 years jail imposed by the Battambang provincial court, he was also fined five million riel for opening an unlicensed clinic and ordered to pay between two to 12 million riel to each of the 107 victims, including 22 minors, as compensation.

Chren had then appealed to the Appeal Court. But the sentence was upheld.

Supreme Court Judge Nil Non said the verdict will be handed down on October 4.