Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen blames US, CNRP for Kem Ley killing

Hun Sen blames US, CNRP for Kem Ley killing

Thousands join Kem Ley’s funeral procession in Phnom Penh in July 2016. During a visit to Australia, Prime Minister Hun Sen accused the CNRP and US of being behind the revered analyst’s murder.
Thousands join Kem Ley’s funeral procession in Phnom Penh in July 2016. During a visit to Australia, Prime Minister Hun Sen accused the CNRP and US of being behind the revered analyst’s murder. Athena Zelandonii

Hun Sen blames US, CNRP for Kem Ley killing

Prime Minister Hun Sen denied playing a role in the assassination of government critic Kem Ley on Friday, instead implying the United States and the Cambodia National Rescue Party were behind the hit.

In July 2016, Ley was gunned down in broad daylight by a former soldier days after speaking openly about recent revelations of the extent of the Hun family’s fortune. His widow, Bou Rachana, fled to Thailand before recently receiving asylum in Australia, where she led protests against Hun Sen’s recent visit.

“Now, I heard his wife is using the topic of Kem Ley to demonstrate against me. They said I killed Kem Ley,” the premier said to supporters in Australia on Friday. Many observers, including Sam Rainsy, former president of the CNRP, believed the government ordered the hit. Rainsy was slapped with a defamation conviction for the accusation.

Instead, the premier suggested that the CNRP is truly to blame.

Claiming he had plans to meet with Ley on July 18 or 19, just days after his murder, Hun Sen asked, “who benefited from the death of Kem Ley?”

“Not Hun Sen’s government, and not Hun Sen. It clearly benefits the opposition party,” he said.

“Kem Ley was not the one who was against the government, but made an effort to meet Hun Sen,” he said of the frequent government critic.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Bou Rachana, the wife of murdered Cambodian analyst Kem Ley, speaks as Australian Cambodians gather to protest the presence of Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Sydney on March 16 2018. Peter Parks/AFP

The premier also urged Rachana not to be “confused”.

“You are very mistaken, and now the stupa of your husband, I was the one who paid for that . . . Your family didn’t have enough money and made an appeal and I paid for that,” Hun Sen said.

Claiming he “respected [Ley’s] analysis”, Hun Sen said a “black-handed intelligence group” ordered the hit to serve the opposition party.

The CNRP was forcibly dissolved last year for allegedly working with America to topple the Cambodian government, a charge that has been widely dismissed as a pretense to ensure the ruling party wins the next election.

“They destroyed Kem Ley’s life because Kem Ley had the purpose to create a political party separate from the opposition party,” he said.

In an email on Sunday, Rainsy dismissed Hun Sen’s “crazy accusation”, saying it was meant to divert attention from Hun Sen’s own alleged culpability, and was hypocritical given he sued Rainsy for suggesting the government was behind the murder. “Where is Hun Sen’s sense of honour and his priority in ‘defending’ the truth?” Rainsy asked.

Ex-CNRP Deputy President Mu Sochua repeated a challenge that opposition figures have presented from the beginning: that Hun Sen set up “an independent investigation in the killing”.

In an interview with Radio Free Asia on Saturday, Rachana also rejected claims America or the CNRP were behind the murder, noting the government harassed the family over Ley’s funeral procession. “If [Hun Sen] is good and he loves my husband, why did he try to prevent us every time?” she asked.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Full country reopening to be decided in two weeks

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that if the Covid-19 situation remains stable for 15 consecutive days from the end of the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, Cambodia will reopen fully, albeit in the context of Covid-19 whereby people have to adjust their lives to

  • Phnom Penh governor: Show Covid-19 vaccination cards, or else

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng late on October 5 issued a directive requiring all people aged 18 and over and the parents of children aged 6-17 to produce Covid-19 vaccination cards when entering schools, markets, malls, marts, eateries and other business establishments that have been permitted

  • Cambodia seeks probe into 'false reports' on Hun Sen's alleged Cypriot passport

    Minister of Justice Koeut Rith on September 6 wrote a letter to his Cypriot counterpart Stephie Dracos requesting cooperation in investigating and providing the truth in relation to the "exaggerative and false allegations" that Prime Minister Hun Sen holds a Cypriot passport. In his letter, the

  • 'Pandora Papers' expose leaders' offshore millions

    More than a dozen heads of state and government, from Jordan to Azerbaijan, Kenya and the Czech Republic, have used offshore tax havens to hide assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a far-reaching new investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’