The man suspected of killing political analyst Kem Ley was on Friday questioned at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for the first time since he was charged over the high-profile assassination, although authorities were tight-lipped about the hearing.
Oeuth Ang, who initially identified himself to police as Chuop Samlap, or “Meet Kill,” was charged with premeditated murder and illegal weapons possession on July 13, three days after Kem Ley was shot dead inside a gas station convenience store.
Arriving at the municipal court at about 8:30 a.m., Mr. Ang was questioned by Investigating Judge Seng Leang, according to court spokesman Ly Sophana.
“The investigating judge questioned the suspect, Chuop Samlap, and reviewed some of the evidence, then ordered the processing of the investigation into the case to continue,” Mr. Sophana said, declining to say more about the hearing.
Shortly after midday, Mr. Ang was escorted from the courthouse and bundled into a waiting police SUV. He did not answer questions from reporters.
Mr. Ang has confessed to shooting Kem Ley and claims he was taking revenge over a $3,000 loan the analyst had refused to pay back. But the families of both men say the two had never even met.
The failure of authorities to update the public on status of the murder probe has fueled widespread suspicion of government involvement, which was only heightened when a video of Mr. Ang’s arrest, posted online, appeared to show the suspect and pursuing police officers acting overly familiar.
Government officials have said that they believe someone else ordered the hit but have not elaborated on the theory.
Contacted on Friday, Kem Ley’s widow, Bou Rachana, declined to comment on the investigation except to say she had little faith in it.
“The idea of many people, and myself, is that we do not believe [Mr. Ang] is the mastermind, even though the court and police have been working on this for a long time,” she said.
But Buntenh, a dissident monk who was close to Kem Ley, said he too was in the dark about the case.
“Up to now we have not heard anything about it. We are trying to convince the hero’s wife, Ms. Bou Rachana, to take assistance from a lawyer, but she said her mind is not yet working. It’s still in painful suffering,” he said.
“At this point in time, myself, I am very sorry for the delay of the investigation,” he added. “If we stop finding and investigating, it means we do not love our hero—we lost our hero without doing gratitude to him.”
(Additional reporting by George Wright)