Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hit-and-run driver to be out in weeks

Hit-and-run driver to be out in weeks

Hit-and-run driver to be out in weeks

6 Keam Piseth

A hit-and-run driver who left three children dead and 11 injured in her wake was found guilty yesterday but given a suspended sentence by Phnom Penh Municipal Court that will see her released in less than two weeks.

The year six medical student, 23-year-old Keam Piseth Narita, raised a nationwide outcry in March after ploughing into a motorbike in broad daylight on Norodom Boulevard, then speeding away – only to crash into a crowd gathered outside of the Ministry of Interior, killing three children and injuring 11 bystanders.

Though the court sentenced Piseth Narita to three years in prison and issued a fine of six million riel ($1,500) on charges of “driving causing death and serious injury”, the vast majority of the jail time would be suspended and reduced to time already served due to extenuating circumstances, presiding judge Kor Vandy said.

“Based on the hearing and the accused person’s confession, the court has found that Keam Piseth Narita has committed the offence as accused,” Vandy said. “But because she had meningitis and was on medication that made her drowsy – according the official letter from the doctors – the court decided to sentence her to three years in prison, but the real implementation of her punishment will only be three months and 15 days. The rest of the sentence was suspended, and a fine of six million riel will be put into the state’s budget.”

He added: “Keam Piseth Narita is prohibited from driving any kind of vehicle from now on.”  

Piseth Narita declined to comment at yesterday’s hearing but expressed her regret during her June 6 trial, and promised to use her medical degree to improve the lives of others if released.

“I know about my mistake now. I am really very regretful about it,” she said at the time. “I would like to promise that if I am allowed to stay out of detention, I will study hard in order to complete my medical doctorate, and when I start my career, I will try my best to rescue or help the poor in my country.”

According to Judge Vandy, Narita’s father – Keam Piseth, the deputy director of Kandal Provincial Hospital – had paid compensation to all the families of the victims, all of whom had since withdrawn their complaints.

To some, however, the act of compensation is part of the problem.

“I think financial compensation has been used in criminal cases in a completely wrong way,” Cambodian Center for Human Rights president Ou Virak said, who noted that Piseth Narita was serving just one month for each life she took.

“I think the sentence is very, very light, although I feel she had no intention to kill,” he added.

However, according to Community Legal Education Center executive director Yeng Virak, the fact that the driver was tried and sentenced marked a major improvement on how such cases were typically handled.

And, though her sentence was suspended, he added, she had been awarded the maximum possible sentence for the crime.

“To me, it’s quite, quite fair,” Yeng Virak said. “If she commits the same thing in the future, she should be severely sentenced.”

Additional reporting by Sean Teehan


  • Five-year-old Hanuman dances his way into hearts of Cambodia

    A young talent from a new-established settlement has emerged, captivating the online world with his mesmerising performances of the traditional Cambodian monkey dance. Roeun Kakada is a five-year-old prodigy who has taken the social media sphere by storm with his exceptional dance skills and dedication

  • Fresh Covid warnings as Thai hospital fills

    A senior health official reminds the public to remain vigilant, as neighbouring countries experience an increase in Covid-19 cases, with the latest surge appearing to be a result of the Omicron XBB.1.5 sub-variant. Or Vandine, secretary of state and spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health,

  • Honda shutters Siem Reap football club

    Japanese football legend Keisuke Honda, the owner of Siem Reap football club Soltilo Angkor FC, has been forced to shut the club down, after it failed to attract sponsorship for the upcoming season. Honda, the former manager of the Cambodia men's national football team, said

  • Hun Sen warns of regional tensions

    ASIA is becoming a dangerous geopolitical hotspot, with several countries announcing that they intend to send naval vessels towards Southeast Asia and on to the South China Sea, warned Prime Minister Hun Sen. “Heated geopolitical issues can easily escalate, namely to war. I am not

  • PM declares ASEAN Para Games open

    The 12th ASEAN Para Games officially kicked off on the evening of June 3 at Morodok Techo National Stadium in Phnom Penh, with a spectacular opening ceremony featuring fireworks and performances by some of the Kingdom’s most accomplished talents. Tens of thousands of sports fans

  • Waterway job still pending for Kampot tourism port’s opening

    The search is still on for a contractor to expand and deepen the Kampot International Tourism Port’s waterway and deliver additional enhancements allowing safe access for larger vessels, nearly a year after the main construction work on the 4.25ha site was completed on June 30, 2022.