The widow of slain Funcinpec commune candidate Thon Phally is seeking to appeal the acquittal of two men, one of whom she claims to have seen kill her husband in November during a Kompong Cham province shooting spree that also left Sam Rainsy Party activist Phuong Sophat dead.
The killings took place during the violent months leading up to the February commune council elections. The court case against the pair and three other men convicted in May was seen as a step forward for those seeking justice in pre-election violence cases.
But despite widow Soy Tha’s testimony in provincial court that she saw Eang Veth, who was with another man named Lang Sarin, shoot her husband, the men were let off.
Two other suspects—military official Yun Tony and Chan Ratha, the deputy commander of submilitary region of Tbong Khmum district—were convicted in absentia and sentenced to 18 years.
Seng Sokim, deputy chief of Kompong Cham judicial police, said Tuesday that police are still investigating the case and suspect both Yun Tony and Chan Ratha of escaping to an area near Kompong Thom province.
Only Yun Samoeun was sentenced to eight years for his role in the shootings.
At Thon Phally’s urging, the Kompong Cham provincial court will send an appeal to the appeals court in Phnom Penh, a court official said Tuesday.
Kompong Cham provincial court Judge Khieu San said Tuesday that Soy Tha complained to the provincial court and the court is currently gathering evidence before they send an appeal to Phnom Penh. He did not go into detail why the provincial court is handling the appeal request, which is procedurally irregular.
Both Thon Phally and Phuong Sophat were killed in the same Srolop commune less than two hours apart. Human rights groups and the UN called the killings politically motivated and expressed displeasure with the court’s verdict, saying at the time of the decision that justice had not been served.