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Work death disguised as road accident: cops

After rocks from a worksite detonation killed one of his employees, a manager at a Kratie province granite company was questioned yesterday for allegedly trying to cover up the circumstances surrounding the fatality, police said.

Chinese national Chov Chinlean, 39, died after a crew from Moeung Sok Granite Product Enterprise set off explosives at a mountain in Snuol district’s Svay Chreah commune, said Chreong Phally, provincial police chief in charge of explosives statistics. Co-worker and countryman Chhin Chifarng, 42, suffered serious injuries to his legs from the blast.

But following the incident, the two men were brought to Kampong Cham Provincial Hospital by fellow Moeung Sok Granite employees, who told medical staff the men were injured in a traffic accident.

“The two victims were sent to Kampong Cham Provincial Hospital immediately by the company’s vehicle in order to hide information from the authorities,” Phally said. “They turned the case into a traffic accident so they would not be held responsible to compensate workers and families.”

Kratie police called in Moeung Sok Granite manager Yu Sovanret for questioning yesterday after investigators suspected that the hazardous use of explosives – used to break pieces of granite from the mountain – and not a traffic accident had killed Chinlean, Phally said. Sovanret was not detained after questioning.

Calls to Moeung Sok Granite yesterday went unanswered.

A manager being questioned about a workplace death is much more unusual than a company lying about an employee’s death, Ou Virak, chairman of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said.

“It’s quite common, especially for the managers, to get away with it,” Virak said. In similar cases, authorities only look further into causes of death if there is a monetary incentive, he added.

Sovanret was called in after a woman who cooks rice for employees said an explosion killed Chinlean, Phally said.

Police have had problems with Moeung Sok Granite over the past year, mostly to do with alleged illegal use of explosives, Phally said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SEAN TEEHAN

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