Cambodian medic who spread HIV asks for court's mercy

Yem Chrin, center, an unlicensed medical practitioner, is escorted by prison guards to waiting transportation outside an appeals court in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017. Yem, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison after finding him responsible for infecting more than 100 villagers with HIV by reusing sanitized syringes, told the appeals court that he regretted the mistake and he did not intend to infect the victims. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
Yem Chrin, center, an unlicensed medical practitioner, is escorted by prison guards to waiting transportation outside an appeals court in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017. Yem, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison after finding him responsible for infecting more than 100 villagers with HIV by reusing sanitized syringes, told the appeals court that he regretted the mistake and he did not intend to infect the victims. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
Yem Chrin, center, an unlicensed medical practitioner, is escorted by prison guards to waiting transportation outside an appeals court in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017. Yem, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison after finding him responsible for infecting more than 100 villagers with HIV by reusing sanitized syringes, told the appeals court that he regretted the mistake and he did not intend to infect the victims. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — An unlicensed Cambodian medical practitioner who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for infecting more than 100 villagers with HIV on Thursday acknowledged his mistake in reusing syringes and told an appeals court that he only sought to provide health care for his community.

A court in the northwestern province of Battambang in December 2015 found Yem Chrin guilty of cruel behavior resulting in death, intentionally spreading HIV and practicing medicine without a license. He is seeking a reduction of his sentence to 10 years so he can be reunited with his family, he said.

At least 10 of the infected persons died, and he had initially faced a murder charge that would have made him liable for life imprisonment.

The appeals court in Phnom Penh said Thursday it will announce its verdict Sept. 8.

Yem Chrin, 57, told the appeals court that he reused disposable syringes and needles because it was difficult to get new ones and he didn't know they could spread the HIV infection, which causes AIDS. He said that even his own mother, sister, nephew and nieces became infected with HIV as a result of his treatments.

He said that for nearly 20 years he had been treating patients for all kinds of illnesses. In some cases they were unable to pay because they were too poor, which he accepted. In earlier testimony, some villagers praised his generous spirit.

Cambodia, one of the world's poorest countries, has inadequate health care facilities, especially in rural areas, where villagers often have no recourse but to rely on unlicensed medical practitioners who have trained themselves to treat minor ailments and give injections.

Yem Chrin said he often had a short supply of syringes, and it was difficult to travel to the nearest provincial town to buy new ones.

"If I had known that the needle and syringes meant for one-time use could contain HIV, then I would not have reused them with another patient," he said, telling the court that the tragedy caused him sleeplessness.

When he was arrested in 2014, police took him into protective custody because they feared he might be lynched by residents of Roka village, where at least 106 of 800 people tested were found to be infected with HIV. Local newspapers reported the total was 300. The infected patients ranged in age from 3 to 82 and included Buddhist monks.

"Intentional or unintentional, I don't know, but the HIV I got from his treatment can't be tolerated because this virus puts my life in peril," said Sam Lorm, 83. "I thought sentencing him to 25-years' imprisonment was too lenient, because the crimes he committed affected not one victims but more than 300 people in a single village."

A 30-year-old HIV-positive woman said she received treatment twice from Yem Chrin, when she was pregnant with morning sickness and when she had contracted typhoid.

Now she and her 3-year-old daughter both were infected with HIV, she said.

Cambodia had a high HIV prevalence rate of 2 percent in 1998, but an aggressive campaign to promote safe sex brought the figure down to an estimated 0.7 per cent in 2014, according to the U.N. agency that spearheads the worldwide fight against AIDS.

You may also interested in

Cambodian PM: I'll rule 10 more years; 'don't be...

Sep 6, 2017

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to continue leading his impoverished Southeast Asian...

Bangladesh, Cambodia leaders meet on Rohingya,...

Dec 4, 2017

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has met with her Cambodian counterpart, Hun Sen, during an...

Nest of endangered giant softshell turtle found...

Dec 19, 2017

Conservationists have found a nest of the endangered Asian giant softshell turtle on a Mekong River...

China to invest billions of dollars in ally...

Jan 11, 2018

Cambodia and China have signed nearly 20 agreements worth several billion dollars to develop the...

Some blocked from attending Australia memorial in...

Aug 19, 2016

Vietnam lifted its sudden ban on veterans who had traveled to the country to mark the 50th...

People also read these

Cambodian opposition lawmaker flees after arrest...

Oct 4, 2017

A prominent Cambodian opposition lawmaker has fled the country after being warned by government...

Former Cambodia opposition leader sued over...

Dec 7, 2017

Lawyer for Cambodia's military files lawsuit against former opposition leader Sam Rainsy after the...

EU suspends aid to Cambodian election commission

Dec 12, 2017

The European Union says it has suspended assistance to Cambodia's election commission following...

Cambodia upholds jail term for Australian in...

Jan 8, 2018

An appeals court has upheld the prison sentence of an Australian woman convicted of providing...

In Hanoi, Abe says Japan will provide Vietnam...

Jan 16, 2017

Japan will provide Vietnam new patrol vessels, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on the last...

Sign up now!

About Us

VNReporter is built to serve the people of Vietnam exclusive reports that best reflect the happenings and achievements in the country. With the rise in the popularity in online news, readers now demand to read quality news in a more modern and easy to read format.

Contact us: sales@vnreporter.com

Subscribe Now!