Aviation Sector Advises Plane Crash Victims to File Complaint

The State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) has recommended that families of those who perished in the 2007 PMT Air crash file a complaint with the court if they want to receive compensation for their losses.

“The victims’ families should be doing something from the beginning,” said SSCA air safety director Keo Sivorn. He added that they can still file a court complaint.

“Although the company [PMT] is closed, the court can confiscate its property and award it to the victims,” he added.

Earlier this month, Suh & Co., the law firm representing 17 South Korean family members of the passengers who died when the plane crashed in Kampot province, said the victims had re­ceived between $26,000 and $44,000 each from South Korean travel agency HanaTour in an out-of-court settlement.

But the families of the five Cam­bo­dians killed in the crash have still not received any compensation.

Relatives of those killed in the June 25, 2007, crash, which left all 22 onboard dead, said they had considered legal assistance since the accident, but had been unable to afford a lawyer to represent them.

“We once wanted to get a law­yer and file a complaint with the court,” said Heang Sorphon, the widow of Uth Chandara, one of the aircraft’s two pilots. “The lawyer asked for $2,000 each in advance…. I don’t have that much money to spend on a lawyer and I wasn’t even sure if I would be compensated,” she said.

Mr. Sivorn—who was spokes­man for the SSCA when PMT flight U4 241 went down in the mountains of Kampot during a Siem Reap City to Sih­anoukville flight—said that the SSCA bears no responsibility for the crash or compensation. However, he said the body would take action to help the families if it received a formal letter from them.

“I think Civil Aviation should do something [at] that time…. Then it becomes the government’s job,” he said, adding that because the SSCA has no funds to compensate the fam­ilies itself, he would ask the Ministry of Finance.

Ms. Sorphon said she would coordinate with the other families to write a letter to the SSCA.

“I’ll meet with the other victims and write a letter to Civil Aviation,” she said.

Kim Yeng, the mother of Hean Chandara, the plane’s other pilot, also said she would write a letter to the authorities.

“I’ll write a letter and submit it in two days,” Ms. Yeng said.

Officials have said that PMT and the airline’s insurer were legally re­sponsible for compensating the victims’ families. They have also said they are unaware of who the airline’s insurer was.

Kem Channarith, chief of SSCA’s accident investigation unit, said that he knew nothing about PMT’s insurer.

PMT, which operated out of Phnom Penh from 2003, halted operations in 2008.

Former PMT director Sar Sa­reth has said that the airline is not responsible for compensating the victim’s families because the plane that crashed was on loan from a Russian company.

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