The National Police yesterday held a press conference to quash suspicion that the car crash that injured Prince Norodom Ranariddh and killed his wife was premeditated, stressing that the taxi driver accidentally slammed into the Prince’s vehicle and is being held accountable.
General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief, told the press that the taxi driver was carrying six passengers on Sunday when he was speeding to overtake another car along National Road 4 in Preah Sihanouk province’s Ou’Oknha Heng commune.
“We have concluded that the Highlander was a taxi carrying six passengers, which means it was overloaded,” he said. “The taxi driver, Mr Mil Saret, has an extra passenger next to him and was trying to overtake a car just as the Prince’s convoy arrived at that spot.”
“There are two reasons for the crash,” he added. “First, he was driving very fast and second, the Highlander was packed with passengers, making it difficult to control the vehicle.
“Mil Saret admitted that he was driving 100 kilometres per hour while overtaking another car,” he noted. “It was a traffic accident.”
Following the crash, the Funcinpec party called on the Interior Ministry to thoroughly investigate the crash, citing concerns that it was unusual for a convoy equipped with sires to be involved in a crash and noting that it was the third crash for the Prince in the past few years.
Gen Yan noted that Mr Saret has been charged with careless driving causing injury and death and has been jailed at the Preah Sihanouk provincial prison, where his medical treatment is continuing.
He added that police inspected the crash site and interviewed witnesses of the crash as part of their investigation.
Gen Yan then again quashed rumours that the crash may have been planned due to political motives as the upcoming national election nears next month.
“It was a traffic accident and the National Police entirely deny any information beyond this,” Gen Yan said. “We can conclude that it was a traffic accident caused by Mr Mil Saret.”
Yim Savy, secretary-general of the Funcinpec party, said party officials have no objections over the conclusions drawn from the police investigation.
“We have agreed with what police have found out so far,” he said. “However, we will further discuss with party members what our next step will be.”
Mr Savy added that the Prince is on the road to a full recovery at a hospital in Thailand. Party officials have still not informed him that his wife is dead, he added.
Ouk Phalla, the Prince’s wife, was cremated on Wednesday in Phnom Penh.