Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Charges despite settlement

Charges despite settlement

A senior city official’s son, whose vehicle hit and killed three people
A senior city official’s son, whose vehicle hit and killed three people, sits in pre-trial detention in Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Sunday. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Charges despite settlement

A driver allegedly responsible for three deaths and three injuries over the weekend was charged yesterday and will remain in jail despite his father’s high-ranking status in Phnom Penh government, police insisted.

Driving a black Range Rover, Bun Ratanak, 30, allegedly crashed into a line of motorbikes at about 5:30pm on Saturday in Meanchey district. Phnom Penh police chief Chhuon Sovann said Ratanak had been charged yesterday by Phnom Penh Municipal Court for causing deaths and injury by driving.

Initial local media reports suggested Ratanak had avoided jail through an out-of-court settlement, but Sovann denied the rumour. Ratanak, who is the son of Bun Serey, a director of Phnom Penh Municipal Hall’s finance office, will be sent to pre-trial detention, he added.

“No matter how rich a perpetrator is, he cannot pay for the victims’ lives and he has to be given justice by the court,” Sovann said. “Even if the victims’ families had received the compensation, the perpetrator has to be tried in court.”

Ratanak faces civil and criminal charges stemming from the crash, Sovann said. Families of the victims have accepted compensation from him.

A Meanchey district police officer said Ratanak paid all funeral expenses and will pay further expenses later.

The determination to pursue criminal charges despite the victims’ families accepting compensation is reminiscent of the March hit-and-run case of 23-year-old medical student Keam Piseth Narita. After crashing her car on Norodom Boulevard, she ran into a crowd of people while fleeing the accident, killing three children and injuring 11 bystanders.

None of Narita’s victims pressed charges after her family settled with the victims’ families out of court, but a judge last month dished out a three-year suspended sentence with three and a half months to serve, and a six million riel [$1,500] fine.

At the time, Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, called the punishment a step forward in Cambodian justice. But, regarding Ratanak’s case, Virak said he needs to wait and see how the trial plays out.

“It’s not a guarantee that he will not be able to buy himself out,” Virak said. “I want to see the trial and I want to see the sentencing.”

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SEAN TEEHAN

MOST VIEWED

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,