Wed, Jun 26, 2019 - Page 5 News List

Cambodia charges four Chinese over collapse

AP, SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia

A court in Cambodia yesterday said that four Chinese nationals have been charged with crimes related to a building collapse that killed 28 construction workers who were sleeping in the unfinished structure that doubled as their housing.

The building’s owner was charged with unintentional homicide, involuntarily causing injuries and aggravating circumstances that cause injury, the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court said.

The builder and the building site managers were charged with conspiracy to commit those crimes.

The four were put in pretrial detention. The aggravating circumstances charge carries a penalty of five to 10 years in prison and the unintentional homicide charge carries a penalty of up to three years in jail.

The unfinished seven-story condominium collapsed early on Saturday as the workers slept on the second floor.

Survivors said that they heard a loud noise and felt the building vibrate just before it fell.

Authorities have not said what caused the collapse, and the court did not explain the basis of the charges in detail.

Rescuers found the last two survivors and the final victims on Monday. In addition to the dead, another 26 workers were injured.

The project was in Sihanoukville, a thriving beach resort town that has seen a boom of Chinese-funded projects in the past several years as part of wider wave of Chinese investment and influence in the impoverished Southeast Asian nation.

Chinese businesses have invested several billion US dollars in sectors such as tourism, real estate, agriculture, seaports and casinos. Several skyscrapers and other big property developments in the capital, Phnom Penh, in Sihanoukville and Koh Kong island have been financed and constructed by Chinese companies.

However, Chinese investors have attracted criticism in the past few years as their influence in the country grows.

Cambodia has been increasingly reliant on Chinese aid and investment, and at the same time has become a close political ally of Beijing, supporting its positions in regional and international affairs.

That has allowed Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has been in power for more than 30 years, to be less reliant on aid from Western countries that insist that human rights and democratic principles be observed.

Much of Cambodia’s infrastructure in the past few years has been financed by China and Chinese companies.

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