Police Change Story About Witnesses to Car Crash

Police in Kandal province investigating an April 12 traffic accident in which an SUV driven by a high-ranking Tourism Ministry official hit a motorbike and killed the driver claim they do not have the names of the witnesses who allegedly said that a third—missing—vehicle caused the crash, contradicting earlier comments.

Nuon Someth, an undersecretary of state at the Tourism Ministry and a former deputy Phnom Penh governor, was detained immediately after the crash but released by the provincial court after he arranged a $5,500 payout to the family of the dead man, Mith Sothea, 38. Mr. Someth has declined to comment.

On Monday, deputy Kien Svay district police chief Prum Samnang claimed that two witnesses had told police that a truck straddling the middle of the road had clipped Mr. Someth’s SUV, puncturing its front left tire and causing it to veer into the oncoming lane, where it struck the motorbike.

On Tuesday, Mr. Samnang said he had the full names of the two witnesses and would provide them.

On Wednesday, however, Mr. Samnang said he did not have either witness’ full name or phone number and grew angry with a reporter for asking for them.

“I don’t have it,” he said.

Mr. Samnang claimed that authorities were still searching for the truck, which allegedly fled the scene.

Three witnesses to the crash who spoke with a reporter on Tuesday, however, all said there was no truck.They said Mr. Someth’s SUV had not been hit by any other vehicle and was driving in the oncoming lane when it hit the motorbike.

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