The Supreme Court on Friday upheld a lower court decision to jail Oeuth Ang for life after he was convicted of murdering political analyst Kem Ley in 2016.
Also known as Chuob Samlap, Mr Ang was found guilty of premeditated murder by Phnom Penh Municipal Court and was sentenced to life in Prison in March 2017 after he pleaded guilty for gunning down Mr Ley.
Last year, Mr Ang filed an appeal with the Court of Appeal, but the court also upheld the municipal court’s decision.
At the Supreme Court on Friday, Presiding Judge Soeung Panhavuth read out the guilty verdict to reject Mr Ang’s request for a reduction to his life sentence.
“The Supreme Court has rejected the request of Oeuth Ang because he confessed to be the person who killed the victim,” Judge Panhavuth said. “The court upholds the verdict of the Court of Appeal, which had been made correctly.”
He noted that because Mr Ang had already confessed, the court is not obligated to reduce the sentence.
Mr Ang declined to comment outside of the courtroom.
However, Mr Ang’s lawyer Im Mach said the Supreme Court should have granted his client’s request because his client confessed to the crime.
“I think that the life sentence was too much because my client confessed,” he said.
During his trial at Phnom Penh Municipal Court, Mr Ang said Mr Ley was killed because of $3,000 he owed to him. The allegation that Mr Ley had a debt was rejected by his family.
Mr Ley was a fierce government critic before he was killed in Phnom Penh in 2016.
Mr Ley’s wife Bou Rachana and her five sons currently live in Australia after receiving refugee status from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Am Sam Ath, monitoring manager with rights group Licadho, yesterday said the court system has not provided full justice to Mr Ley’s family.
“Even if the Supreme Court upheld the life sentence against Chuob Samlap, people behind the killing have not yet been prosecuted,” Mr Sam Ath said. “No one believes Chuob Samlap acted alone to kill Kem Ley.”