Lawyer’s son in deadly hit-and-run now in prison

The 23-year-old suspect turned himself in after an online uproar and public comments from the prime minister.
By RFA Khmer
Lawyer’s son in deadly hit-and-run now in prison A Jeep [left] was allegedly driven by the son of a prominent Cambodian lawyer during a hit-and-run accident that killed Seang Kimhong, a decorated badminton player. At right, Seang Kimhong’s family gathers for a celebration of his life.
(Phnom Penh Municipality Police [left] and Facebook/@Juppy)

The son of a prominent lawyer facing charges in a driving accident that killed a gold medal-winning badminton player was being held in pre-trial detention after turning himself into authorities.

Prohm Vicheth Sosakada, 23, was sent to PJ Prison in Phnom Penh on Sunday, according to Nuth Savana, the Interior Ministry’s spokesperson for the Department of Prisons.

The announcement on Wednesday comes after numerous Cambodians posted messages on social media doubting whether authorities really had Prohm in custody.

The Dec. 14 accident between a jeep and a motorcycle in Phnom Penh’s Toul Kork district left SEA Games badminton champion Seang Kimhong dead. 

Evidence proves that Prohm was the driver of the car and fled the scene “without responsibility,” prosecutor Plong Sophal wrote in an arrest warrant. Police said this week that they were also investigating the possibility that a second driver was racing with Prohm.

Cambodians were outraged when the victim’s wife wrote on Facebook that Prohm’s father attended the funeral and offered the family US$1,000 if they agreed to not pursue criminal charges.

Justice Minister Keut Rith responded by ordering Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutors to “investigate and resolve the matter properly and strictly.” The arrest warrant was issued soon afterward.

Intervention from Hun Manet

Prime Minister Hun Manet on Dec. 21 instructed traffic police officers to immediately arrest reckless drivers who caused deadly accidents. Officers don’t need to wait for instructions from top-ranking officers, he said at a ceremony at the Ministry of Environment in Phnom Penh. 

“I will take action against those who punish police officers for their work,” he said. 

“What will happen to our society if police officers enforce the law and they later receive punishment from [powerful] individuals? Our law must be enforced if there is enough proof of drunk driving or hit-and-run.” 

Prominent suspects are often able to escape justice in Cambodia when they are accused of a crime.

But following the prime minister’s comments, Prohm voluntarily turned himself in at the Commissariat of Phnom Penh Municipal Police.

The president of human rights group Adhoc told Radio Free Asia that without the prime minister’s intervention, the suspect would not have been arrested or been sent to detention by authorities. 

“To what extent will they enforce the law against the person who caused the accident?” Ny Sokha said. 

“Is it according to legal procedure or just intermittent enforcement? Or is it just to reduce the sentence or a show for the public to calm down public criticism? Will they release the suspect later on?”

Seang Kimhong won the gold medal in badminton at this year’s SEA Games, a regional Olympiad that takes place every two years and was hosted by Cambodia for the first time in May.

Translated by Sovannarith Keo. Edited by Matt Reed and Malcolm Foster.


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