Interior Minister to Address Kem Ley Investigation Before the National Assembly

Slaying of Government Critic in Cambodia Raises Questions Cambodians lay flowers on the car carrying the body of independent political and social analyst Kem Ley outside the store where he was shot dead earlier in the day in Phnom Penh, July 10, 2016

Cambodia’s minister of the interior may shed some light on the government’s investigation into the July murder of popular political analyst Kem Ley when the cabinet member appears before the National Assembly in January, RFA’s Khmer Service has learned.

The appearance comes as Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang, who heads the National Assembly’s Human Rights, Complaints and Investigation Commission, seeks to question top government officials about the unsolved murder.

Eng Chhay Eang confirmed to RFA on Wednesday that his commission submitted a letter summoning Interior Minister Sar Kheng and Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana to the National Assembly to answer questions about the investigation on Jan. 12.

“Justice is important, and all citizens must receive justice in any matter, not just the Kem Ley case,” Eng Chhay Eang told RFA. “Competent authorities must carry out their roles properly in order to render justice to those victims of all kinds of murder cases.”

Interior Ministry spokesperson Khieu Sopheak told RFA that Sar Kheng plans to provide clarification on the investigation to the National Assembly, but the exact nature of the clarification was unclear. In addition to his role as interior minister, Sar Kheng also carries the deputy prime minister title.

Kem Ley was gunned down in broad daylight on July 10 when he stopped in a Star Mart convenience store beside a Caltex gas station in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh.

Though authorities charged Oueth Ang with the killing, many in Cambodia don’t believe the government’s story that Kem Ley was killed by the former soldier over a debt. While the accused killer has been identified as Oueth Ang, he has used the nom de plume Chuop Samlap which roughly translated means “meet to kill.”

‘Why don’t the authorities reveal the security footage?’

Just days before he was gunned down, Kem Ley had discussed on an RFA Khmer Service call-in show a report by London-based Global Witness detailing the extent of the wealth of the family of Hun Sen, who has ruled Cambodia for 31 years.

Since the arrest, the investigation has apparently stalled, or is not being pursued as the Cambodian authorities have someone in custody.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesperson Ly Sophanna, briefly told reporters via instant message on December 21 that the investigation is still active.

A senior interior ministry official told RFA that the accused murderer’s use of the alias appears to be an attempt to befuddle investigators.

“We have concluded that the accused has the intention to confuse authorities by not telling the truth,” said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Am Sam Ath, head of human rights organization LICADHO’s investigation bureau, told RFA the interior ministry still needs to release the security footage from the gas station where Kem Ley was killed.

Video was released in several other high-profile murder cases in Cambodia, but the video of the Kem Ley killing has yet to be released.

“Why don’t the authorities reveal the security footage?” he asked.

CNRP President Sam Rainsy filed a petition in with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, requesting Chevron Corporation to release any surveillance footage it may have of the shooting death of Kem Ley.

“The company owns and runs the Caltex gas stations and on-site Star Marts throughout Cambodia,” Sam Rainsy wrote in a release posted on his Facebook Page.

“The gas station at which Dr. Ley was killed is equipped with multiple video cameras,” he added. “Human rights organizations and media sources have confirmed that Chevron has refused or ignored requests to release the footage to date.”

Reported for RFA’s Khmer Service by Zakariya Tin. Translated by Sovannarith Keo. Written in English by Brooks Boliek.

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