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Nine Years After Murder, Brother of Slain Activist Gives Up on Court

A scene from the documentary "Who Killed Chea Vichea?" Chea Vichea, a popular Cambodian union leader, was assassinated on January 22, 2004, in Phnom Penh.
PHNOM PENH - Mourners gathered in Phnom Penh on Tuesday to mark the ninth anniversary of the murder of popular labor activist Chea Vichea.

Chea Mony, brother of the slain activist, told the crowd he would be withdrawing his complaint to the court, which he said he now believes incapable of trying the true killers of his brother.

Two men widely seen as innocent, Born Samnang and Sok Sam Ouen, are serving 20 year sentences for the murder, in what many rights groups have called a grave injustice.

“I would like to pray to Chea Vichea’s soul, and say I have decided to withdraw the complaint in this case, because I do not believe in the court,” Chea Mony told the mourners.

Aside from Born Samnang and Sok Samoeun, the courts have also jailed a number of government critics, including Mam Sonando, owner of Beehive Radio, and Yorm Bopha, a land activist.

“The court in Cambodia is disreputable, because a lot of people have received injustice,” Chea Mony said Tuesday.

Chea Vichea was killed on Jan. 22, 2004, outside Wat Langka pagoda in Phnom Penh. His actual killers are believed to be still at large.

Am Sam Ath, investigator for the rights group Licadho, said Chea Vichea’s family has yet to receive justice for the murder, and he urged Cambodian authorities to find the true killers, as a step toward ending impunity in the country.

“The case of Chea Vichea is very complicated, so I urge the authorities and the court to reopen the investigation, and question some of the police officers, such as Heng Pov, to ask who killed Chea Vichea.”

Heng Pov is a notorious former police chief for Phnom Penh, who is serving life in prison on a raft of crimes, including ties to assassinations.