Authorities Pass Buck as Hit-and-Run Investigation Stalls

As hit-and-run victim San Chan lies in a hospital bed awaiting justice for his brother’s death, officials from the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, police and traffic police are pointing fingers at one another, while the driver remains at large.

A week ago today, Mr. Chan, 18, was on his motorbike driving home with his brother San Pal when an RCAF ambulance transporting a soldier from Siem Reap province to Phnom Penh crashed into them in Russei Keo district.

Mr. Chan is in serious condition at Calmette Hospital, recovering from a broken leg and a head injury.

His brother San Pal, 19, died at the scene.

The ambulance driver, an RCAF soldier, fled on foot and remains at large.

Yin Savuth, Russei Keo district deputy police chief, said Monday his department is too busy to investigate the case, and municipal traffic police should be leading the investigation.

But two traffic police officers working on the case said they are awaiting action from RCAF officials to further the case.

“We do not know who the driver is yet,” municipal traffic police officer Tin Vansy said Monday.

“We are still waiting RCAF to report back.”

Soeun Saroeun, a second municipal traffic police officer on the case, said he has been unable to reach RCAF officials who will identify the fugitive driver.

Police are content to leave the investigation in the hands of RCAF officials and have turned away family members of Mr. Chan who are asking for a full investigation.

“We tried to reach out to police about this case many times,” said San Kimsan, an uncle of Mr. Chan. “When we asked them to investigate, police said ‘don’t call us anymore.’”

General Chea Mon, commander of RCAF’s Siem Reap-based Military Region 4, confirmed an ambulance from his base was transferring a soldier when the crash occurred.

Gen. Mon said he is not “biased” toward his soldiers and he welcomed police to track down the driver and bring him to justice. But Gen. Mon refused to identify the driver.

“I just got information about this case this morning,” he claimed Monday. “If the driver made a mistake he should face the traffic law by himself.”

Gen. Mon then said he was too busy to discuss the case further and hung up on a reporter.

Hoem Kimsan, police chief of Svay Pak commune, where the crash occurred, said he does not understand why “upper-level” authorities have been unable to locate the driver.

“I don’t know why my upper levels take so long to investigate,” he said. “We knew about the ambulance.”

Son Meng Leang, Mr. Chan’s brother-in-law, said his family is running out of money to pay medical bills and any compensation from the fugitive driver would help.

“We don’t have enough money for the hospital,” Mr. Leang said. “But I do not think police are even working on the case.”

(Additional reporting by Alex Consiglio)

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