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Opposition Calls for United Nations Help in Kem Ley Murder Investigation

Media coverage on Kem Ley's murder in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (Neou Vannarin/VOA Khmer)

The comments followed a call on Sunday from a UN representative for a thorough, independent investigation.

Cambodia’s main opposition party has requested assistance from the United Nations to carry out an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the murder of Kem Ley, a prominent political analyst and human rights campaigner who was shot dead in Phnom Penh on Sunday morning.

“In the case related to the vicious murder against Dr. Kem Ley, we would like to ask for international participation … in the investigation, especially the United Nations, to put an end to the atrocious murder in Cambodia and to put an end to claims that it was unrelated to political issues,” the party said in a statement.

The comments followed a call on Sunday from a UN representative for a thorough, independent investigation.

Maina Kiai, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, on Sunday lent his support to a thorough probe of Kem Ley’s murder.

Ley, 45, who was well-known for his trenchant criticism of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government, was fatally shot at a convenience store in the capital where he often stopped for his morning coffee. His body was taken on Sunday to a pagoda on the outskirts of Phnom Penh where a Buddhist ceremony was held.

A suspect, Oueth Ang, has been charged with murder for Ley’s killing.

The murder has prompted accusations from either side of the political aisle, with Prime Minister Hun Sen using a speech in the wake of the tragedy to suggest the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party had the most to gain from his murder.

Opposition officials meanwhile rejected the insinuation that the opposition was to blame.

In a “confession” video broadcast on a Hun Sen family-owned television station on Sunday, the suspect claimed Ley had owed him $3,000, a claim which his supporters and family said they doubted.

Ley, a longtime political and social development analyst, co-founded the Grassroots Democratic Party in 2014, before taking a back seat and allowing others to lead the party. He is survived by his pregnant wife and four children.