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Defendant Le Vang leaves Svay Rieng court in September after a hearing. Yesterday the bus driver was sentence to five years in prison for his involvement in a traffic accident the claimed 19 lives. Photo supplied

Fatal crash driver gets 5 years

The Svay Rieng Provincial Court yesterday sentenced the bus driver responsible for a fatal crash in May that claimed 19 lives to five years’ imprisonment, according to a copy of the verdict obtained by the Post.

After driver Le Vang Phing, a 43-year-old Vietnamese national, serves his prison term, he will not be allowed to drive in Cambodia for three years.

Judge Sothy Borachhat also ordered Doung Ratha, director of 15SH bus company, and CAMINCO national insurance to compensate the families of the dead in the amount of 12 million riel (about $3,000) each. Families of injured victims will receive between 6 million and 10 million riel each.

Some of the victims’ families said yesterday that Le and the bus company got off lightly.

“We are now discussing filing an appeal, because the decision is not harsh enough,” said Ean Rim, the husband of a garment worker who died in the bus crash. “My wife and other workers’ lives are gone. [Le] killed many people, and his bus was fully responsible.”

The early morning crash occurred on May 19 on National Road 1, near the border between Svay Tiep district and Kampong Ro district. Le’s bus entered the oncoming lane while attempting to pass and crashed into a van carrying 39 garment workers, killing 19, including the van’s driver, and injuring 20 others.

Le’s trial began on September 17. He was charged with driving without a licence and causing injury and death pursuant to articles 75, 83 and 85 of the Kingdom’s Traffic Law.

Chhorn Sokha, a labour officer at the Cambodian Legal Education Centre (CLEC), which provided lawyers for the victims, said that during the hearing, the victims demanded $20,000 in compensation for each family of the dead and $10,000 for the families of the injured.

CLEC legal officer Chhen Sambo said that the five-year prison term is the “maximum” sentence for the charges.

“Some of the clients are satisfied with the sentence and compensation, but some aren’t,” he said. “Both the accused and the victims have one month to file an appeal.”

Ratha said that the “insurance company is responsible for paying the compensation” before declining to comment further.

Story updated on October 9, 2015.
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