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Kep building collapse victims seek compensation from the owners

Ben Sokhean / Khmer Times Share:
Rescue workers recover a body from the site of the Kep building collapse. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Survivors and families of the dead victims of the collapsed under-construction hotel in Kep province are seeking compensation from the two owners of the building who have been charged with manslaughter over the incident.

Ek Sarun and his wife Chhiv Sothy, from Preah Sihanouk province’s Sihanoukville, were arrested a day after the January 3 collapse and charged by Kampot provincial court with manslaughter and causing involuntary bodily harm under Articles 207 and 236 of the Criminal Code.

However, they were released after posting bail of $87,000.

A total of 36 people, including children, were killed and 23 were injured after the collapse of the seven-storey building in Kep city.

Ouk Oeun, 48, a survivor who lost four family members, including his wife, said yesterday he had met with his lawyers to file a complaint to seek compensation from the building owners.

“I met my lawyer recently and we discussed the amount of compensation to be sought,” he said.

Mr Oeun said the owners must respond to the law and compensate the families of victims over the incident. He is the representative for his seven family members who lost their lives or were injured in the incident,

“We told our lawyers to demand $50,000 for each death and injury caused by the collapse,” he said. “Although the money will not heal our trauma over the incident, we need it to support our families and treat our injuries.”

Mr Oeun, who fractured his skull during the collapse, said he needs to undergo scans and receive treatment once a week in a hospital in Vietnam.

“They are the owners of the building and they cannot merely lay the blame on the building contractor and absolve themselves. They need to be held responsible in accordance with the law.”

Mr Oeun said his family had already received $50,000 each for the dead members and $10,000 each for the injured from the government and other donors.

Following the incident, Prime Minister Hun Sen had advised his newly-formed legal team to provide legal support to the families of the victims.

Yim Visuth, one of the lawyers involved, confirmed yesterday each of his clients are demanding $50,000 over the deaths and also $50,000 for their injuries.

Mr Visuth said the complaint was filed through the Prime Minister’s legal team at Kampot provincial court because Kep did not have a court.

Kong Sam Onn, a defence lawyer of the two owners, could not be reached for comment yesterday but he previously told Khmer Times that his clients should not have been indicted because they did nothing wrong.

However, he said Sarun and Sothy are willing to provide compensation to the families of those who perished or were injured.

Mr Sam Onn said the contractor was to blame for the collapse and his clients were not responsible because they had signed a contract handing over the construction project to him.

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