PHNOM PENH —
The fatal electrocution of a teenager in Siem Reap during Khmer New Year has once again raised concerns over safety at crowded public events in the kingdom.
Mony Rothny, 14, was killed when she was shocked by an iron pole on April 16 on the city’s Pub Street.
A spa owner, Meas Sopheak, was charged on Tuesday with unintentional murder after police found that she had neglected to take proper safety precautions when using an extension cable to power an advertisement outside the spa, said Yin Srang, a Siem Reap court spokesman.
If convicted, she could serve up to three years in prison.
Duong Sokha, chief of Siem Reap’s serious crimes office, said the victim was wet after taking part in water fights, a new year’s tradition in many parts of Southeast Asia.
“It was carelessness. [Sopheak] was careless in putting the electricity box near a wet area when there was a water fight in Pub Street,” Sokha said.
Hong Kimsuon of the Cambodian Defenders Project (CDP), a group of legal experts, said a more thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding the death should take place before judgment was cast.
“If the power cord was placed in the middle of chaos, it was careless, and she should be punished. If she was not careless, she should pay compensation to the victim,” he said.
Sok Sam Oeun, a veteran Cambodia legal expert, said a ruling would also depend on whether Sopheak was responsible for placing the electricity cable there on that day.
“It could be her employee. It’s not right to arrest the owner. The owner is only responsible for compensation,” he said.
San Chey, the executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability Cambodia, said the annual water fights were a growing safety concern.
He urged the government to draw up comprehensive plans for future events.
“The issue has to be prevented and the authorities have to ensure that crowded events are properly managed,” he said.
There have been several incidents in recent years of deadly fires at entertainment spots in Cambodia, leaving a combined death toll of more than a dozen.
Kimsuon of the Cambodian Defenders Project said entertainment venues were of particular concern.
“There is still an issue at the entertainment clubs and they are constructed without emergency exits,” he said.