Suspended Sentence for Driver Who Crushed Garbage Worker

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday handed down a one-year suspended sentence to a 31-year-old Chinese man and fined him two million riel, or about $500, two days after he crashed his SUV into a garbage truck while drunk and gravely injured a young trash collector, court and police officials said.

The 19-year-old victim, Yin Reach, remains in critical condition with serious injuries to his legs, groin and kidneys after the Chinese man, Tuan Tao, crushed him between the truck and the front of his luxury vehicle on Sunday. Witnesses reported that Mr. Tao was driving a car with Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) license plates.

Theng Ramy, a clerk for deputy municipal prosecutor Seu Vanny, confirmed that Mr. Tao had been tried and sentenced, but declined to provide further details.

Seng Chanthon, deputy chief of the municipal traffic police’s traffic offense section, referred questions to Tin Vansy, the officer who brought the suspect to court Tuesday.

“The court charged him under Article 80 of the Law on Land Traffic and gave him a one-year suspended sentence and a two million riel fine,” Mr. Vansy said. Article 80 refers to causing injury or disability while driving under the influence of alcohol.

Mr. Vansy said the suspect’s Toyota Land Cruiser was currently impounded at the municipal traffic police station. He confirmed that the car was bearing RCAF plates.

“We don’t know why he was driving an RCAF car,” he said, declining further comment.

The Defense Ministry could not reached for comment. The Chinese Embassy said it had not been informed of Mr. Tao’s case.

The victim opened his eyes for the first time since the accident Tuesday but is unable to move or speak and will likely never walk again, according to his brother, Yin Rorn, who deferred further questions to his uncle.

His uncle, who did not want to be named, said the family had already agreed on compensation with the suspect’s representatives but declined to elaborate.

“We have resolved the problem together…but I don’t want to say anything else about this,” he said.

Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the legal aid NGO Cambodian Defenders’ Project, said that this was the first time he had seen a case of this nature ferried so quickly through the court.

“With a flagrant crime that has enough evidence, the prosecutor can quickly try the suspect, the law can do this, if the accused is OK with it—but this is the first time I have seen it,” he said.

Prak Sokha, a representative for municipal waste company Cintri, said that the quick trial and suspended sentence was an injustice for poor workers.

“Every time a Cintri driver has caused an accident and caused injuries, the driver spends months in pre-trial detention awaiting trial and always goes to prison,” he said.

sokhean@cambodiadaily.com, henderson@cambodiadaily.com

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