Police have charged a man with unintentional murder after a toddler was electrocuted by an illegal “electro-fishing” device in Prey Veng province’s Peam Ror district.
Hem Phakra, 3, died immediately after grabbing the electrified metal grill net at about 2pm on Monday. Prek Ksay commune police official Ly Chantha said the device allegedly belonged to 26-year-old Lot Dy, a neighbour of the victim’s parents in Oddom village who has since fled the area.
Chantha said that Dy left the gear near a pond about 25 metres from the boy’s home and failed to cut its power supply after fishing, according to witnesses.
“The suspect refused to accept responsibility and escaped after the boy was shocked to death and while his parents and villagers are mourning,” he said.
Despite not yet receiving a complaint from Phakra’s family, Peam Ror district police chief Om Kemsan said he had sent the case to court, charging Dy with unintentional murder and illegal fishing.
He said his officers would continue to hunt Dy, who allegedly fished by connecting the metal grill – usually used for cooking – to his house’s power supply via a cable before lowering it into the water with a bamboo stick.
Phakra’s father Hem Phakdey said he would file a complaint with the court asking for $5,000 in compensation from the suspect after his son’s funeral.
Using electricity to catch fish is illegal in Cambodia, however, the Fisheries
Action Committee Team’s Youk Seng Long said more people were using the easy-but-dangerous method in the face of dwindling fish stocks.
“It is really dangerous and a lot of people don’t know how to control the equipment,” Seng Long said. “Many people know they’re doing the wrong thing, they know it’s illegal but often, if they’re poor, they’ll consider their stomachs first.”
ADDITIONAL REPORTING SHAUN TURTON