Choam Ksan district Forestry Administration chief, Kim Chet Thavy, who allegedly failed to stop his vehicle after killing three students in a traffic accident on June 22, has agreed to pay $10,000 to each of the victims’ families in return for them withdrawing their lawsuits from the provincial court.
Chet Thavy is alleged to have been drunk at the time of the incident, according to police.
Keo Sokhon, the father of one of the victims, Keo Bunchea, also known as Narath, told The Post on Sunday that on Friday, Choam Ksan district governor Chea Kimseng invited the three families to the district hall to negotiate with Chet Thavy’s representative.
Chet Thavy himself did not attend, Sokhon said.
The district governor asked the families to accept $10,000 each in compensation but insisted on them withdrawing their lawsuit.
“Maybe the district governor called the court to see if the lawsuit could be withdrawn after compensation was paid. Then they asked me to withdraw the lawsuit from the court. I arrived at the court at 2pm and provided a thumbprint with the representative to withdraw our complaint,” he said.
The agreement to accept compensation came two days after the victims’ families had submitted a lawsuit to the provincial court last Wednesday.
In the lawsuit, Sokhon demanded $40,000 in compensation, while the other two families asked for $20,000 each.
Sokhon told The Post that he accepted the $10,000 because he did not want to prolong the problem any longer and because, whatever happened, he could not bring his son back.
The victims’ parents and Choam Ksan district traffic police claimed that before the accident, the offender, who was driving a Ford Ranger, was under the influence of alcohol and on the way to a karaoke parlour on National Road 69B.
They said Chet Thavy took a left turn into the Karaoke parlour without indicating or checking to see if it was clear.
He then collided with a motorbike carrying the three students coming from the opposite direction. The victims were identified as Chamroeun Narong, 17, Keo Bunchea, 16, and Bunly Kalak, 15.
Kalak’s father, Keo Sovanara, said Chet Thavy initially declined to pay $10,000 in compensation but, after negotiations continued with the help of district governor Kimseng, the terms were finally agreed upon.
“The court said it was not problematic, it was up to us to decide. I don’t know if the court has to take legal action on this or not,” he said.
Kimseng told The Post on Sunday that he had summoned the victims’ families to negotiate, after guidance from the provincial governor, to hear the opinions of all parties. “All three wanted to put an end to it, so they went to the court,” he said.
Preah Vihear provincial court spokesperson Chum Kaniya could not be reached for comment on Sunday.
Rights group Adhoc spokesperson Soeng Sen Karuna said it was a serious case because people had died.
He said the authorities could help to negotiate compensation, but the offender could still face a criminal complaint by the provincial prosecutor, even if the plaintiffs withdrew theirs.
“Legal procedures should continue. If not, it shows the law is not enforced on people with money or power. It would make the law weaker in other cases when people commit the same crime,” Sen Karuna said.