Police are building a case against a Chinese man who operates a collection of mechanical horses at a shopping center in Phnom Penh, accusing him of criminal negligence following the electrocution of a 6-year-old boy riding one of the animals on Monday.
The boy, In Tra, paid 1,000 riel, or about $0.25, to ride the horse at the New Stung Meanchey Market on Monday afternoon while his mother ate lunch nearby, and fell from the machine after receiving what police described as a deadly shock of electricity.
On Thursday, deputy Meanchey district police chief Huo Minh Vang said investigators had since identified the owner of the horse—and several similar rides at the mall—questioned him, and deemed him culpable. He said the owner was a Chinese national, but that he could not remember the man’s name.
“The owner of the mechanical horse must be responsible for this incident,” Mr. Minh Vang said, adding that the man was questioned at the Stung Meanchey police station on Wednesday.
“He claimed that children play on the ride every day, but that it never caused any incident before.”
Mr. Minh Vang said he had tried to forward the case to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court this week, but was rebuffed because of the New Year holiday.
“We attempted to send this case to the court, but the court officials said there were not enough officials working during Khmer New Year, so on Monday next week we will send the case to the court,” he said.
The victim’s mother, 27-year-old factory worker Chhorn Pisey, said she accepted $3,500 in compensation from the Chinese man on Monday, and would not press charges, acknowledging partial responsibility for the accident.
“I think the death of my son was caused by my carelessness because I went to eat noodles and left my son alone,” Ms. Pisey said. “I am really so sorry about this incident. I am really hurting.”
But Ms. Pisey said her son’s death also could have been avoided if the ride’s owner and mall employees had been more attentive.
“I saw that they kept the [electricity] cable system very untidy,” she said, adding that it had taken three minutes for employees to notice that her son had fallen from the horse.
“However, I will not file a complaint against them because I don’t think the authorities will find justice for me, and I cannot confront the company because I am poor.”