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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - South Africa asks for details of fatal S’ville jet ski accident

South Africa asks for details of fatal S’ville jet ski accident

One man held on manslaughter charges in friend’s death.

A REGIONAL ambassador for South Africa has submitted a formal request to the Cambodian embassy in Bangkok for information pertaining to a recent jet ski accident in Preah Sihanouk province that resulted in the death of one South African national and the detention of another.

Douglas Gibson, the South African ambassador to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, said he sent the letter Wednesday and had yet to receive a response as of Thursday afternoon.

Andre Bester, 27, and his friend Paul Hutchins, 43, were riding jet skis off the coast of Sihanoukville on September 18 when they collided at about 4pm, said Seang Kosal, the provincial police deputy chief.

Bester was brought in for interrogation the following day.

“The man confessed that he collided with his friend because there was a big wave and he was unable to see where he was going,” Seang Kosal said.

Preah Sihanouk provincial court prosecutor Bou Bunhang said earlier this week that Bester had been charged with involuntary manslaughter under the UNTAC Criminal Code, which carries a sentence of up to three years. Von Nguon, deputy director of the provincial prison, said Thursday that Bester was being held in the prison awaiting trial.

Gibson said the letter to the Cambodian embassy asked for official details of the arrest and any charges.

He declined to comment on the handling of the case or what he hoped for in terms of an outcome, saying: “The South African government’s policy is not to interfere with the judicial process of any country.”

Gibson said the embassy had already sent a “senior official” to meet with Bester last week.

He said the embassy would continue to provide consular support to Bester as well as relatives of Hutchins. Gibson added that Hutchins’ kin were travelling to Cambodia to claim the body. He said he was unaware if they had arrived Thursday.

The Cambodian embassy in Bangkok could not be reached for comment Thursday.

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