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Justice sought in Kep building collapse case

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A seven-storey building in Kep province collapsed on January 05, 2020, killing 36 and injuring 23. Heng Chivoan

Justice sought in Kep building collapse case

Kampot Provincial Court is scheduled to announce a verdict on January 13 in the case of the collapse of a seven-storey building in neighbouring Kep province while the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC) has launched a campaign demanding justice for families of victims.

Kep currently does not have a court of its own.

Ky Tech, president of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s council of attorneys, told The Post on January 11 that the court’s handling of the case had been prolonged on account of the many complications and victims involved.

“The volunteer lawyers of Samdech Techo [Hun Sen] have fulfilled their legal duties to defend the victims in the case, and now the results will depend on the judges,” Tech said.

He added that after a ruling is issued, any unsatisfied parties can take the case to the Court of Appeal.

Tech noted that the prime minister had taken responsibility for the incident, allocating money and ensuring legal representation to defend victims and demand civil compensation on their behalf.

BWTUC secretary-general Yann Ty, through the union’s Facebook page, demanded justice for families of victims who died in the wreckage of the collapsed building.

“We cannot meet in person to launch this campaign because of Covid-19 so we have launched it online to demand justice for victims. Don’t be confused into thinking the compensation their relatives received in the past was fair. It was not fair because the money came from the government [rather than the perpetrators],” he said.

Ty pointed out that the company responsible for the accident had not yet responded to demands for civil compensation for the victims.

He said the court had yet to hold a hearing to determine accountability for the lost lives, but when such a determination is made and the Covid-19 crisis has subsided, union members planned to make a procession to present petitions to all relevant parties insisting on fair treatment for the victims.

Thirty six out of 59 construction workers lost their lives in the January 3 building collapse in Kep town. The collapse was attributed to the foreman’s disregard for reinforcing the concrete with rebar and removing scaffolding too early.

The building’s owners, Euk Saron and his wife Chhiv Sothy, were arrested and referred to court for prosecution but were released on bail.

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