Kem Ley’s Widow Says Cambodian Authorities Keep Her Family in The Dark

Interview: 'What my husband did was for the sake of the nation. I always supported him.' Bou Rachana stands in front of an image of slain husband Kem Ley.
RFA/Sideth Cheu

Bou Rachana, widow of slain government critic Kem Ley, lashed out on Friday at the Cambodian government as she questioned authorities’ investigation into her husband’s murder, writing in a Facebook post that her family is being kept in the dark.

“Tomorrow, on Sept. 10, it will be two months since my husband was murdered, but justice for my family is still in the darkness,” wrote Bou Rachna in a Facebook post.

Bou Rachana was responding to comments made by Interior Ministry spokesman Khiev Sopheak, who appeared to blame her for the slow progress of the investigation.

“The ministry of interior regrets that Dr. Kem Ley’s wife fled the country and has not cooperated with the authorities in their investigation to find out the truth behind this murder case,” Khiev Sopheak told Cambodian radio station VAYO-FM on Friday.

Bou Rachana and her children fled the country over worries about her safety following her husband’s murder.

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 capital Phnom Penh.

Cambodian authorities have charged former soldier Oueth Ang, who said he shot Kem Ley over a U.S. $3,000 debt.

Kem Ley was buried in southwestern Cambodia’s Takeo province two weeks later after a weekend funeral procession that drew around 2 million mourners according to funeral organizers.

Prime minister criticized

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

In her post, Bou Rachna wondered where the investigators were during the time she remained in the country after her husband was killed.

“I wanted to ask you: Were there any authorities who came to visit and cooperate with my family from the date my husband was shot and killed?” she wrote.

“I, his wife, was banned from getting close to my husband,” she added. “This clearly shows the authorities’ intention. It is understood that since the first day of the funeral until the day of the funeral procession was two weeks. How many of your team came to visit at the funeral site?  None!”

She went on to criticize the investigation and Khiev Sopheak’s remarks, asking why Cambodian authorities haven’t released the video footage of the shooting that the authorities confiscated from security cameras on and near the scene.

“If Mr. Khiev Sopheak truly cares about my family, he would have shown the security camera video on the date of incident, right away, and not delay for two months,” she wrote.  “Now you say you have regrets. It is I who should say the word ‘regret,’ not the authorities.”

Reported by Sarada Taing for RFA's Khmer Service. Translated by Yanny Hin. Written in English by Brooks Boliek.

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