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K Sokha pays respects to murdered gov’t critic

Monks stand in front of a truck carrying Kem Ley’s statue at Chroy Changvar’s Wat Chas in Phnom Penh late last year.
Monks stand in front of a truck carrying Kem Ley’s statue at Chroy Changvar’s Wat Chas in Phnom Penh late last year. Heng Chivoan

K Sokha pays respects to murdered gov’t critic

Acting Cambodia National Rescue Party president Kem Sokha met with the family of slain political activist Kem Ley in Takeo province on Saturday, with a party spokesman saying only the opposition would be able to conduct an independent investigation into the prominent government critic’s murder.

Sokha, who was holed up at party headquarters avoiding arrest at the time of Ley’s death in July, met with the activist’s brother and mother, later taking to Facebook to recollect his past interactions with Ley. “The last time we met, we spent a long time debating decentralisation policy for the commune council elections in 2017,” Sokha wrote in a Facebook post. “Kem Ley suggested to me to decentralise power to the people.”

Ley was shot by former soldier Ouet Ang, who confessed to the killing, saying it was over a $3,000 debt. However, police have since said they believe others to be involved in the plot, though they have never produced alternative suspects or motives.

The court investigation into the case was closed in late December, with court spokesman Ly Sophanna yesterday saying legal procedures were being followed and refusing to comment on a potential trial date.

Meanwhile, CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann yesterday said the court “should not have closed the criminal investigation”, and vowed an investigation under any future CNRP government.

Ley’s brother, Kem Rithiseth, said he appreciated Sokha’s call for justice, but the matter was in the government’s hands.

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