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Collapse victims seek justice

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Members of the search-and-rescue teams helped the victims from the rubble of the seven-storey building which collapsed on Saturday in Sihanoukville last month. Facebook

Collapse victims seek justice

Families of victims of the Sihanoukville building collapse are seeking up to $120,000 in compensation from the Chinese company responsible for one of contemporary Cambodia’s worst disasters.

Forty-eight families filed complaints over the tragedy and have urged the courts to speed up proceedings and find them justice.

The collapse left 28 construction workers dead, with another 26 injured, some seriously.

Some survivors were trapped under the rubble for 48 hours.

Four Chinese nationals were detained over the tragedy, with the building’s owner charged with involuntary manslaughter and causing bodily harm.

Ouk Savat told The Post on Wednesday that he and three other survivors had met court officials to clarify their case, while Prime Minister Hun Sen’s legal team had taken up the matter to demand damages from the Chinese construction company.

The 31-year-old said fear of working again as a construction worker following the incident had left him unemployed as he had no other skills. He said he was seeking $20,000 in damages.

“I demand compensation as a victim. Now I cannot work because I am fearful at the mere sight of buildings. I only have the skills to work as a construction worker, so now I can do nothing. If the money is provided, we will have enough to live on,” Savat said.

Chhum Chinlaing, whose parents died in the disaster and whose sister was trapped under rubble for 20 hours, told The Post on Wednesday that he and his sister had testified at the provincial court 10 days ago.

He said they were depending on the prime minister’s lawyers to find them justice.

The 23-year-old said he is demanding more than $100,000 in compensation from the company for the loss of his parents, while his sister had almost lost her life.

He said he hoped to soon be compensated and see those responsible for the disaster punished according to law.

“I used to work on that construction site. Later, my father, mother and sister did too. The building collapse killed my parents.

“My sister is still far from fully recovered. I want to receive justice as soon as possible because I am alone. I have to process all the paperwork alone, do everything alone. I am finding it difficult and exhausting,” Chinlaing said.

Ky Tech, Hun Sen’s legal team’s chief lawyer, told The Post on Wednesday that the prime minister’s lawyers were so far representing 48 families of building collapse victims.

The plaintiffs were divided into three groups – the families of the deceased, the injured and the victims of property damage.

Tech said the legal team was continuing to visit victims and families who were yet to file lawsuits demanding damages from the company.

Some had not sought further compensation after being provided with assistance by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“Our legal team does not force them to demand compensation, we just provide them with professional advice. The compensation demanded varies, but the lowest is $20,000 and the highest is $120,000,” Tech said.

Four Chinese nationals, including a woman, were detained on June 24. They are suspected of being responsible for the collapse.

Chinese building owner Chen Kun, 39, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, causing bodily harm and causing destruction of property under articles 207, 236 and 414 of the Criminal Code.

Construction contractor Deng Xin Gui, 48; construction worker Gao Yu, 29; and a 43-year-old woman, Xie Ya-Ping, who oversaw the site, have been charged as accomplices under Article 29.

Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court prosecutor Lim Bunheng told The Post that as the case had been sent to the judge he had nothing further to add.

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