Court Orders New Probe of Chea Vichea Murder

The Supreme Court has ordered Phnom Penh Municipal Court Prosecutor Yeth Chakrya to reinvestigate the 2004 assassination in Phnom Penh of Free Trade Union (FTU) president Chea Vichea, Supreme Court Judge Khim Pon said Tuesday.

The decision to return the case to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court was made when the Supreme Court last year released the two men widely believed to have been the government’s scapegoats for the murder, Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, each of whom had served five years in prison for a crime they did not commit.

“[The Supreme Court] orders the Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutor to begin reinvestigating the case to find out who killed Chea Vichea,” reads the final verdict of the Supreme Court, obtained Tuesday.

Judge Pon said the reason for returning the case to the court in Phnom Penh was simple.

“We want the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to find out who really killed Chea Vichea and to not give up on this case,” he said.

Chea Vichea’s brother and current FTU President Chea Mony said Tuesday that justice for his brother was unlikely, as he does not believe the Phnom Penh Municipal Court has any interest in finding the killers since the real killers were likely hired by someone within the government to assassinate his brother for leading workers to protest for an increase in the minimum wage.

“My brother Chea Vichea, [and the similarly slain union leaders] Hy Vuthy and Ros Sovannareth were shot dead for demanding an increase in the minimum wage, and I think that gunmen were paid by a high-ranking person,” said Mr. Mony.

Only the ex-police chief of Phnom Penh, Heng Pov, who was once an advisor to Prime Minister Hun Sen, and who was subsequently convicted of a litany of crimes including murder and is now serving 100 years in jail, knows who the real killers are, Mr. Mony said.

“The most important witness for this case is Heng Pov, who 10 years ago made no arrests in the hunt for the real killer” of Chea Vichea, he said.

Phnom Penh Court Prosecutor Yeth Chakrya could not be reached for comment, and deputy prosecutor Sok Roeun declined to comment about the case.

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