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Investigation Opened into ‘Jailed’ Policeman’s Car Crash

A truck carries logs on a rural road is seen in this July, 2002 photo taken in Preah Vihear province some 245 kilometers (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh.

The prison department of the Ministry of Interior has opened an investigation into a car accident involving a Ratanakkiri official who was supposed to be in jail last week.

Yoeung Baloung, the former police chief of Ratanakkiri province, who was supposed to be serving 13 years on charges related to illegal logging, was reportedly in a collision following an evening of carousing in Ratanakkiri province’s O’Chum district on Saturday.

“This week, we will open the investigation,” Heng Hak, director of the prison department, told VOA Khmer.

Heng Hak said he had received information that the director of the Ratanakkiri provincial prison, Ngin Nhel, had allowed Yoeung Baloung to leave the prison for medical purposes.

He declined to speculate as to why Yoeung Baloung was at a celebration or in a car accident, but said his department will begin an inquiry.

Ngin Nhel did not respond to repeated phone calls Wednesday.

Adhoc investigator Pen Bunna said Yoeung Baloung had appeared at a traditional Tampoung hill tribe ceremony on the night of Jan. 15, where he drank traditional wine before climbing into a car, alone.

Witnesses told Adhoc he drove erratically a short distance before striking a motorbike with three passengers. Toeung Baloung then drove off and has “disappeared,” Pen Bunna said.

The collision injured all three people, who are recovering in a hospital across the Vietnamese border, according to family members and Adhoc.

Sam Keo, 19, and his brother, Thang Pich, 21, were injured, along with motorcycle taxi driver Chheng Nguon, 40.

Sok Vuthy, the 36-year-old uncle of Sam Keo and Thang Pich, said he wanted Yoeung Baloung held responsible.

“I want Yoeung Baloung to cure the victims until they are healthy,” he said.