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Remembering Kem Ley

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Friends of Kem Ley on Tuesday place a garland near the site where the political analyst was shot two years ago. Pha Lina

Remembering Kem Ley

Supporters of Kem Ley, including NGOs and youth groups, on Tuesday commemorated the second anniversary of the prominent political analyst’s death by shooting.

Many who attended called for the creation of a panel to further investigate the killing, with one saying he believed the man serving life in prison for the crime is a “fake killer” acting as a fall guy for powerful masterminds.

However, a Ministry of Justice spokesman said the request to establish such a panel is “impossible procedurally”.

A wreath was laid at the petrol station cafe on Monivong Boulevard where Ley, an outspoken critic of the government, was shot dead on July 10 , 2016.

Oeut Ang, who upon his arrest shortly after the shooting called himself Choub Samlab, or “meet to kill” in Khmer, was convicted of Ley’s murder and is serving a life sentence.

After laying the wreath, Cambodian Confederation of Unions president Rong Chhun said: “We are still shocked by Kem Ley’s death. He always spoke the truth about the social problems affecting the people. We will always respect his name and praise and remember his heroism.

“We can see the authorities [have convicted] Oeut Ang. But people regard Ang as a fake killer, so we want the Phnom Penh municipal authorities to create a committee to investigate the murder, find its masterminds and bring them to justice.”

He said the authorities could not find those behind the killings of several prominent personalities, including trade union leader Chea Vichea, environmental activist Chut Vuthy, and now Kem Ley, and claimed the deaths of the famous and influential remain unpunished because they involved powerful people.

“In the murders of famous people who helped society, the municipal authorities have not found the real killers and their masterminds to be punished under the law, and that makes people suspicious."

“To eliminate those suspicions, the authorities need to find the killers and their masterminds,” he said.

Justice Ministry spokesman Chin Malin said: “The request to establish an investigative committee is impossible procedurally because it is not legally correct and driven by political aims.

“This case is being processed by the court and the killer is being punished, with Oeut Ang sentenced to life in prison.”

Malin said authorities will reveal the results of the ongoing secondary probe into Ley’s death in due course when court procedures are completed.

Ang’s court-appointed lawyer Lor Kimgech said he had filed a Supreme Court appeal as requested by his client, but it has yet to set a trial date.

He said the decision to file the complaint came after the Appeal Court on May 11 upheld the verdict of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in sentencing his client to life in prison.

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