Doctor faces murder rap in HIV outbreak

AN unlicenced medical practitioner suspected of negligently infecting more than 100 villagers in northwestern Cambodia with the virus that causes AIDS has been charged with murder and other crimes, a prosecutor said.

YEM Chhrin was on Monday charged with murder carried out with cruelty, intentionally spreading HIV – human immunodeficiency virus – and practicing medicine without a licence, said Nuon San, a Battambang provincial court prosecutor.

Health officials say 106 people out of more than 800 tested in Roka village were found to have the virus. Yem Chhrin is being held pending further investigation. Nuon San declined to say what penalty might be applied for the crimes, although Cambodia has no death sentence. Seng Loch, a senior provincial police officer, said the suspect acknowledged reusing syringes for treatment of patients, a practice that can spread HIV. “He told us that he had no intention of spreading HIV to villagers. He doesn’t know who among his patients was infected with HIV,” Seng Loch said. Cambodian media have reported that the infected villagers range in age from 3 to 82 years old and include Buddhist monks.