A year to the day after environmental activist Chut Wutty was gunned down in a remote part of Koh Kong province, calls were made for his murder to be reinvestigated.
In Koh Kong province’s Mondol Seima district, Chut Wutty’s family held a Buddhist ceremony at the spot where he was gunned down behind the wheel of his car while traveling with two Cambodia Daily journalists.
“I request the government led by Samdech Hun Sen help to intervene and reopen the investigation into my father’s case to find the real suspects who shot my father,” said Chut Wutty’s son, Cheuy Oudormreaksmey.
In Phnom Penh on Friday morning, a small group of students gathered at a temple opposite the Royal Palace, where they prayed for Chut Wutty’s spirit and called for justice for the slain activist. Some wore T-shirts bearing his image; others held his picture.
“We want the Cambodian courts to work independently to find justice for human rights activists, environmental activists and we all came here to pray…to find justice for Chut Wutty and his family,” said Sar Mora, committee director of the Cambodian Youth Network.
In a statement released by international resources watchdog Global Witness, Cambodia was described as being “in the midst of a state-sponsored land grabbing crisis,” and Chut Wutty’s untimely and violent death left more questions than answers, the organization’s land program chief Megan Macinnes said.
“Since Chut Wutty’s death, the crisis he was fighting in Cambodia’s farms and forests has got rapidly worse,” she said. “There is more deforestation, more land grabs, more corruption and more impunity.
“Why has his death not been properly investigated? What about the other land activists rotting in prison cells in Cambodia? These are the questions the world should be asking to do justice to Wutty’s memory.”
Chut Wutty was allegedly shot by military police officer In Rattana, who in turn was shot by Rann Boroth, a security guard for the private Timber Green logging firm. Mr. Boroth was arrested and charged with the unintentional murder of In Rattana, but released from prison in November for time served after his sentence was reduced.
The Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), said it was mourning the loss of the forestry activist, and that “the twin scourges of violence and impunity that stalk Cambodia have as strong a grip on the country and its people as ever.”
“Today, our thoughts are very much with Chut Wutty’s family,” CCHR President Ou Virak said.
“Wutty was a brave man and a good man, and his mission was to do his best to help Cambodia.”
(Additional reporting by Lauren Crothers)