A military police officer whose truck was involved in a fatal hit and run last month bought his way out of a criminal case Wednesday for less than $10,000 and the cost of three secondhand motorbikes.
Lieutenant Colonel Or Sim, an officer with the national military police, claimed that a security guard was driving his Toyota Tundra pickup when it slammed into two motorbikes and killed two people on May 30. He claimed he was not in the car at the time of the accident.
Khiem Neary, 41, and Sean Veasna, 23, died at the intersection of Norodom and Mao Tse Toung boulevards, while Nguon Ousa, 26, was sent to Calmette Hospital with severe injuries.
Lt. Col. Sim finalized an out-of-court settlement in the case Wednesday, giving $3,500 and a secondhand motorbike to the families of both Sean Veasna and Khiem Neary.
Mr. Ousa’s family received $2,000 and a secondhand motorbike, in exchange for agreeing not to pursue criminal charges.
“We put the problem to an end today because the victims’ families accepted the compensation,” Mr. Sim said. “The case is not involved with the court anymore because the victims’ families withdrew their complaints. You can ask a court clerk because he attended the negotiations for compensation.”
Phnom Penh Municipal Court clerk Lay Bopha, who had in the past insisted that criminal charges would still be pursued once compensation was finalized, confirmed the case was over.
“This case, following the law, is ended because the victims’ families accepted the compensation,” Mr. Bopha said.
But a traffic law expert said criminal charges must still be pursued even if victims receive compensation and withdraw their complaints.
Ear Chariya, an independent road safety consultant, said anyone found guilty of a fatal road accident must face the law, which includes jail time.
“If you kill someone on the road, you must face the consequences,” he said.
Sean Pros, the brother of Sean Veasna, said he had no choice but to accept the compensation because he had no faith in getting a fair trial.
“I accept this compensation to put the problem to an end because we are little people, so we can’t resist against powerful people,” he said.