Road Crash Involving Jailed Cop Getting Its Day in Court

Ratanakkiri Provincial Court on Tuesday set a hearing date for a road accident case in­volving a disgraced former pro­vincial police chief who injured three men while on a two-hour leave from prison, where he is serving a 13-year sentence, court of­ficials said yesterday.

In January, Yoeung Baloung, serving time for his involvement in an illegal multimillion-dollar logging operation, was in a pickup that crashed into a motorbike. The two sides have disputed whether Mr Baloung, whose leave was granted by Rata­nakkiri Provincial Prison Chief Ngin Nel, was the driver.

Ros Saram, deputy court prosecutor, said he issued a summons ordering plaintiffs Sok Vuthy, 36, and his wife, Leang Sitha, 33, as well as police and witnesses from the scene, to testify on April 28. He declined to say whether Mr Ba­loung would testify.

Mr Saram stressed that the trial was not to judge the appropriateness in granting Mr Baloung leave. “We are going to hear the road accident case, [whether] the vehicle’s driver was careless,” he said.

During the hearing, said Mr Sa­ram, the plaintiffs could raise the question of whether Mr Baloung’s nephew was at the wheel of the car or the suspect himself, as witness have contended.

Speaking by phone yesterday, Mr Vuthy, who is uncle of two of the men injured in the accident, said he was eager to participate in the hopes of revealing that Mr Ba­loung was the driver responsible for hitting his nephews.

“If I don’t attend the hearing, I will not have a chance to speak the truth that Mr Baloung drove the car that hit the three men,” he said.

Mr Vuthy added that he had been pressured not to reveal facts or attend the hearing, but refused to say by whom.

Pen Bonnar, provincial coordinator for Adhoc, said yesterday that the trial appeared to feature multiple irregularities.

“It is strange that the court is taking this traffic case to trial so fast,” he said, noting that it usually takes much longer to get a hearing date.

 

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