A 30-year-old police officer who stands accused of killing two people while driving drunk in Russey Keo district and attempting to flee afterwards was tried yesterday in Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
The hearing was cited as a rare instance of an alleged hit-and-run by a government employee making it to trial.
Keth Borey, an officer working with the Ministry of Interior, was driving on National Road 5 at about 9:30pm on January 7 when he collided with a moto carrying two people travelling in the opposite direction, said judge Chea Sok Heang.
“He drove drunk, and was driving very fast at night time. He slammed two victims riding a motorbike the opposite way, and caused them to die immediately at the scene,” he said.
“He was charged by the court’s prosecutor with driving drunk and causing two people to die.”
Lieutenant Colonel Tieng Chansar, Russey Keo district police chief, said that villagers detained Borey as he tried to leave the scene.
From 2007 to 2012, according to the most recently available data from Handicap International, hit-and-runs accounted for about 42 per cent of all fatal crashes. In the same time period, hit-and-runs rose from a quarter to more than a third of overall accidents. Drivers often flee the scene to avoid mob violence and prosecution.
“I think it is a rare case,” said Ear Chariya, an independent road safety specialist, who said the defendant could face up to three years in prison. “It’s very, very difficult to find the people who hit and run. Especially if they are in a position with the government.”
Families of the victims are demanding about $10,000 each in compensation.
“I had no intention to hit them,” Borey said at the hearing yesterday. “I know my mistake now. I would like to ask the court to reduce my sentence, and reduce the compensation payment, because I am not able to make money to pay them.”
A verdict is due on June 25.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JOE FREEMAN