Governor Charged for Killing One in Prey Veng Car Crash

A district governor in Prey Veng province who killed a motorbike taxi driver on Thursday while speeding in the wrong lane, and then left the scene of the crime and was found “relaxing” in his office, was charged Friday night with careless driving causing death, officials said on Sunday.

On Thursday, Peamro district governor Chum Samoeun plowed his Lexus RX300 into 40-year-old Kong Thuon, killing him instantly. Rather than attend to the victim’s medical needs or call the authorities, Mr. Samoeun left his vehicle at the scene and hitched a ride to his office, where police arrested him two hours later.

Mao Sameth, chief of the provincial police’s traffic bureau, said yesterday the investigating judge in the case charged Mr. Samoeun with “careless driving causing death” —a crime punishable by between one and three years in jail—and sent him to the provincial prison.

He said the governor had come to a “compromise” with the victim’s family, who decided to drop all complaints.

“He gave compensation to the victim’s family and they agreed not to complain,” said Mr. Sameth, adding that the families had become close in the days following the accident and that Mr. Samoeun now considered the victim’s children as his “god children.”

Regardless, Mr. Sameth said the governor would still face criminal charges.

“By the law, he still faces prosecution even if he paid civil compensation,” he said.

Ath Urn, police chief in Prek Khsay Kor commune, where the accident occurred, said that Kong Thuon’s wife had asked for money to pay for her husband’s funeral and a stupa in exchange for dropping her complaint. Both he and Mr. Sameth said they did not know how much compensation was paid.

When police arrested Mr. Samoeun, he told them he had nodded off at the wheel. Though the arrest came just two hours after the crash, provincial police chief Sreng Chea said on Thursday that he told his officers not to bother with a breathalyzer.

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