A Cambodian court has charged two Chinese nationals with the torture and murder of a South Korean social media influencer whose body was found on the outskirts of Phnom Penh earlier this month.
Byun Ah-yeong, also known as BJ Ahyeong, was an influencer for popular South Korean streaming service AfreecaTV, and that she had more than 250,000 Instagram followers, Agence France-Presse reported. Media reports say she was 33.
Two Chinese, Lai Wenshao, 30, and Cai Huijuan, 39 were charged with murder, court spokesman Plang Sophal told local media.
Lai and Cai testified that Byun had gone into seizures and died while receiving treatment at their clinic on June 4, and they had abandoned her body, AFP said, citing a police report.
If they are convicted, they could face life in prison.
Lai and Cai’s clinic had been operating without a license, Sok Sambath, the governor of Phnom Penh’s Boeung Keng Kang district, told RFA’s Khmer Service.
“We shut the clinic down,” he said, but declined to answer questions inquiring as to how they could have been allowed to open without a license, only saying that they had started before he took office.
Police Chief Sar Thet told RFA that according to the police investigation, “the couple injected [something] into a South Korean lady and she died.”
The incident may have happened because of improperly administered anesthesia, Quach Mengly, a Cambodian physician, told RFA.
The Ministry of Health hasn’t effectively taken action against unlicensed medical clinics and this has caused several patient deaths as of late, Yong Kim Eng, president of the local PDP-Center NGO, told RFA.
He said that the incident could scare off foreigners who want to seek medical treatment in Cambodia.
“[Cambodians] are [also] afraid of using local clinics,” said Yong Kim Eng. “They seek treatment outside of the country, so we are giving money to foreign countries.”
Soeung Sengkaruna, spokesman for the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association urged the authorities to conduct a thorough investigation to find the real cause of death to restore public trust in Cambodia’s medical services.
“The related authorities and the ministry of health need to investigate this case,” he said. “We want to find out whether it was a malpractice or the providers’ lack of skill.”
Translated by Samean Yun. Edited by Eugene Whong and Malcolm Foster.