Cambodian 'doctor' charged over HIV infections

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – An allegedly unlicensed doctor accused of infecting more than 100 Cambodian villagers with HIV was charged with murder Monday, according to court officials.

Yem Chrin, 55, is said to have transmitted the virus to villagers in Battambang province, western Cambodia, by reusing dirty syringes.

Speaking to The Anadolu Agency, Deputy Prosecutor Heng Luy  said Chrin had been charged with crimes including “murder, proceeded by torture,” running an illegal clinic and spreading HIV/AIDS.

If found guilty Chrin faces life in prison, Luy said. It was not clear who the murder charge relates to.

Chrin reportedly studied medicine in a refugee camp but was not licensed to practice.

During questioning in court on Sunday he admitted using the same syringe on multiple patients when giving injections and taking blood samples, the Cambodia Daily reported.

The practitioner has been in custody since Wednesday, a day after it was revealed residents in Roka village, including children, monks and elderly people, had tested positive for HIV.

The mass infection emerged when a 74-year-old man learned he had HIV in late November. When two other family members tested positive, he told other villagers to get tested.

Last week, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen was widely criticized after he said he was “99 percent sure” the villagers did not have HIV, citing his skepticism over the quality of Cambodian testing equipment and questioning how children and the elderly could contract the virus.

Tests at the Pasteur Institute in Phnom Penh on Thursday confirmed the villagers were infected.

The World Health Organization, UNAIDS, Unicef and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been assisting Cambodia’s Health Ministry to manage the outbreak.

Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency