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Cambodia Court to Hold Public Hearing Into Kem Ley Killing


FILE - Tens of thousands of Cambodians march at a funeral procession of Kem Ley, heading to his homeland in Takeo’s Tramkak district on Sunday, July 24, 2016. Independent political analyst Kem Ley was shot dead on Sunday, July 10, 2016 in Phnom Penh. (Leng Len/VOA Khmer)

FILE - Tens of thousands of Cambodians march at a funeral procession of Kem Ley, heading to his homeland in Takeo’s Tramkak district on Sunday, July 24, 2016. Independent political analyst Kem Ley was shot dead on Sunday, July 10, 2016 in Phnom Penh. (Leng Len/VOA Khmer)

A local rights defender casts doubt on the authorities’ ability to find justice in the case.

A senior Interior Ministry official has announced that the trial into the daylight murder of political analyst and government critic Kem Ley will be open to public scrutiny.

No specific date was set for the trial to begin, but General Khieu Sopheak added that the CCTV footage from the gas station where Ley was murdered would be aired during the proceedings.

Gen. Khieu Sopheak, an Interior Ministry spokesman, said “it is for the court to determine a date, but now it is investigating and collecting evidence and it will hold a trial.”

Kem Ley, a prominent researcher and political analyst, was gunned down on July 10 at a coffee shop in central Phnom Penh, just days after he spoke out publicly about alleged corruption by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s family highlighted in a recent report by NGO Global Witness, which showed the family controls companies worth at least $200 million.

Khieu Sopheak, Ministry of Interior spokesman speaks to reporters in Phnom Penh on Thursday, August 11, 2016. (Leng Len/VOA Khmer)

Khieu Sopheak, Ministry of Interior spokesman speaks to reporters in Phnom Penh on Thursday, August 11, 2016. (Leng Len/VOA Khmer)

Ly​ Sophanna, Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesman, said the court was “pushing the investigation in this case,” but added that it was not guaranteed that the public would be allowed access to the proceedings. “We will check the real situation,” he said.

The alleged gunman, Ang Oeuth, was arrested shortly after the incident, but has told police his name is “Choub Samlab”, which in the local Khmer language means “Meet Kill”.

He was charged with premeditated murder and possessing an illegal weapon.

Am Sam Ath, technical coordinator for local human rights group Licadho, cast doubt on the authorities’ ability to find justice in the case.

“It depends on the [political] will and what was behind the murder of Mr Ley, and whether the government and the authorities dare to reveal the truth behind the mysterious shooting,” he said.

Meas Ny, a political and social analyst, warned that if those behind the murder were not seen to be brought to justice, “it could cause public anger and also danger… It could lead to violence.”​

The government has complained of difficulties in carrying out the investigation into the killing, blaming the “stubbornness” of the key suspect, despite there reportedly being at least two videos of the incident captured of close-circuit television cameras.

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