Three recent car crashes in Phnom Penh that left 11 people dead and four seriously injured have all ended with the drivers walking free and the relatives of the dead receiving between $900 and $4,200 for each of their deceased loved ones, family and police said on Tuesday.
Relatives of seven people, five of them children from one family, who were mowed down and killed when the inebriated driver of a Toyota Camry mounted a pavement on Monivong Boulevard in September faced months of hard bargaining until they were paid $900 for each of their dead, family members said. “We just accepted it. We don’t know what do because our children are already dead,” said Lim Thyhong, who lost his two sons, a daughter, a niece and a nephew in the crash.
“I don’t want the money. It cannot be exchanged for my children even if they gave $10,000,” he said, adding that of the compensation paid, court officials involved in the compensation negotiations demanded and took a 10-percent cut.
His wife, Chhun Ly, said she had no idea if the courts were pursing criminal charges against the driver.
“It’s up to the court. I don’t know much about the law and I don’t have money to pursue a criminal case,” Lim Thyhong added.
A similar result ensued for Kong Vannin, 23, the son of a still unnamed Ministry of Defense official.
Kong Vannin killed three people and seriously injured a fourth in May last year when, drunk at the wheel of his vehicle, he crossed into oncoming traffic on the Japanese Friendship Bridge.
Though chased and captured by police after fleeing the scene of the horrific crash—some of the dead were dashed from the bridge into the Tonle Sap—he was released from custody after a representative for his father paid $12,600 for the three dead, and $2,600 to the injured person.
“They compensated to finish the story five days after the accident,” Mao Sony, municipal traffic police conflict resolution chief, said on Tuesday.
“Civil compensation is solved, but the criminal case rests with the courts. It’s not our duty,” he added.
Sun Thearith, 25, the son of Takeo province’s deputy police chief, who killed one man and seriously injured four others in two hit-and-runs on the same night in December, paid a total of $6,000 compensation.
“[His parents] tried very hard because they didn’t want their son to be in jail,” Mao Sony said. “His father sold two cars and other stuff to pay the victims,” he added.
“It is the right of court prosecutors if they want to pursue a criminal case, and this is out of my capacity.”
Phnom Penh Municipal Court Prosecutor Ouk Savouth said dangerous drivers must face criminal charges.
“We have convicted many of these cases. But I don’t know how many. We will have to check the documents,” he said.