Bus Driver Gets 5 Years for Crash That Killed 19

The driver of a bus that crashed into a van carrying 38 factory workers in May, killing 19 people and injuring 20, was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison by the Svay Rieng Provincial Court, according to the presiding judge.

Vietnamese national Le Van Tung, 43, was driving a Phnom Penh-bound tour bus—owned by the 15 SH Transport company— when it plowed head first into a van packed with garment workers headed to their factories in Bavet City. Police at the scene of the accident in Svay Teap district said that Mr. Van Tung had driven into the wrong lane while attempting to pass another vehicle.

Mr. Van Tung was convicted Thursday of unlicensed driving and careless driving resulting in death, Presiding Judge Sothy Borachhat said.

“We have convicted and sentenced the Vietnamese driver to five years [in prison] and fined him 12 million riel [about $3,000], and banned him from driving for seven years, starting from the day he leaves prison,” he said.

Judge Borachhat added that after Mr. Van Tung is released, the court plans to air notices on TV and radio, alerting the public that he is not allowed to drive and warning others not to drive carelessly.

He said the verdict also required 15 SH Transport to pay 12 million riel (about $3,000) to the family of each deceased victim and between 6 million riel (about $1,500) and 10 million riel (about $2,500) to each injured victim depending on the severity of their wounds.

The judge added that the bus company had already appealed the verdict.

“I have received information that the bus company already filed a complaint with the Appeal Court saying it was only possible for them to pay $50,000, but we ordered them to pay $100,000,” he said.

Duong Rotha, owner of 15 SH Transport, said that compensating the victims was the responsibility of the Cambodian National Insurance Company, which insured his company, declining to comment further.

Oeun Rim, 34, whose wife Morn Savon, 31, was killed in the accident, said that he would accept the compensation, but only because he had already spent so much money traveling to take part in negotiations.

“I think the compensation is not enough for the life of my wife, but I accept it because I have no choice,” he said.

Touch Savuth, 52, the father of Chut Bopha, 23, who was also killed in the crash, also said the 12 million riel in compensation was unacceptable.

“I did not agree to accept the compensation because it is a very small amount for the death of my daughter,” Mr. Savuth said, adding that he planned to file an appeal after speaking with the families of other victims.

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