Sar Kheng Targeted for Questioning On Kem Ley

Interior Minister Sar Kheng may face interrogation in the National Assembly over the murder of political analyst Kem Ley after a request was submitted to the parliament’s president on Tuesday by a senior CNRP lawmaker.

National Assembly spokesman Leng Peng Long said Eng Chhay Eang, head of the Assembly’s human rights committee, filed the letter asking Assembly President Heng Samrin to summon Mr. Kheng to appear for questioning by the committee.

photo kem ley WEB
Interior Minister Sar Kheng (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

“We are contacting [Mr. Chhay Eang] to decide whether or not to summon Samdech Sar Kheng because this case has been in the court’s hands,” he said, adding that the letter had not specified a date for the summons.

“The letter has not been sent to the president of the National Assembly for endorsement yet,” he added.

Mr. Chhay Eang could not be reached for comment. Colleagues on the commission directed questions back to the chairman.

Kem Ley, a popular political pundit and frequent critic of the ruling party, was shot in cold blood at a Phnom Penh gas station in July, sending shockwaves through the country. His funeral procession drew more than 100,000 people onto the streets.

When authorities arrested his suspected murderer Oeuth Ang within an hour of the shooting, the suspect identified himself as “Chuop Samlap,” or “Meet Kill,” and said he had committed the murder over an unpaid debt of $3,000. A video of the confession was quickly posted online.

But friends and family of Mr. Ang, a former monk and soldier, said they never heard the suspect speak of Kem Ley and recalled him saying he had gone to Phnom Penh to join the military 10 days prior to the killing.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesman Ly Sophana said on Wednesday that an investigating judge is continuing to probe the murder.

But skeptics say that the lack of public information and apparent inactivity of investigators in the case bears a striking similarity to past unsolved murders of CPP critics.

Attempting to bypass to the government’s refusal to release the Caltex station’s surveillance footage of the shooting, opposition leader Sam Rainsy filed a request last week with a U.S. court asking energy giant Chevron, which operates under the Caltex brand in Cambodia, to release the tape.

Kem Ley’s brother Kem Rithysith applauded efforts to question Mr. Kheng, and said he was spearheading his own movement to get the surveillance footage.

“His body did not belong to the family, but to all citizens,” he said. “We are planning to file a petition with the Ministry of Interior and the court to release the video footage on the day that gunman shot and killed him.”

Mr. Rithysith said the footage should not just be shown only to family, but disseminated broadly to satisfy the public’s hunger for answers about the case.

“The video footage of the shooting of my brother should be released for the public to see through social media such as Facebook, or screenings on local television for the public to see and decide” what happened, he said.

The analyst’s brother said he believed a transparent investigation would show that Mr. Ang was “not the only one involved in this brutal killing.”

Mr. Rithysith confirmed that Kem Ley’s wife, Bou Rachana, and their five sons remained in Bangkok under the care of the U.N. after fleeing there in August out of fear for their safety in Cambodia. Ms. Rachana was pregnant when Kem Ley was killed, and has since had a baby boy.

“She and her kids are still in Thailand, awaiting paperwork to be completed to depart to Australia,” where they hope to eventually resettle, he said.

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