Former friends and students of slain political analyst Kem Ley will mark the third anniversary of his death by honouring him at the gas station where he was gunned down despite a warning not to do so by City Hall.
Mr Ley was murdered on the morning of July 10, 2016 at a Caltex gas station in Phnom Penh as he was having coffee.
Mr Ley left behind a wife and five sons, who were later granted refugee status from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees following his murder.
Oeuth Ang, or Chuop Samlap, was sentenced to life in prison by Phnom Penh Municipal Court after he was found guilty of gunning down Mr Ley.
Soung Neakpoan, vice president of the Khmer Student Intelligent League Association, yesterday said about 10 former students and friends of Mr Ley will lay a wreath for him at the location of the murder.
Mr Neakpoan noted that despite City Hall’s refusal to allow the gathering, honouring Mr Ley was important.
“Although City Hall refused to give us permission, we will still do it like every year,” he said. “We will go in as customers of Star Mart at the Caltex petrol station, lay down a wreath and place a cup of coffee he used to drink, and hold a ceremony at about 9:30am.”
“We will then travel to his hometown in Takeo province for commemoration,” Mr Neakpoan added.
Mr Neakpoan added that the trial and conviction of Mr Ang was a facade, and that the government must find the real killer.
“According to our analysis, the video clip of the incident was edited,” he said. “It seemed like the [gunman] was edited in, and there were other irregularities.”
“Therefore, we would like to send a message to the government that we cannot accept this artificial murderer,” Mr Neakpoan added.
Deputy Governor Mean Chanyada on July 4 said in a letter that the group is barred from conducting a ceremony because the petrol station is private property, adding that the group could hold the ceremony at Mr Ley’s home or the KSILA office.
“Gathering for a ceremony at the [petrol station] or public road will affect security, safety and public order,” Mr Chanyada said in the letter. “It could also turn out to be contrary to the purpose of the ceremony. The association’s president will be completely liable.”
Bou Rachana, Mr Ley’s wife, last year said she plans on continuing her social activism to push for “genuine democracy” in Cambodia.
“I Bou Rachana, the wife of Dr Kem Ley, will participate in social activities with Khmer people everywhere, especially with Cambodian blood relatives in Australia, for the nation and the motherland of Cambodia to demand genuine democracy in Cambodia,” she said in a Facebook post.
She went on to organise protests against Prime Minister Hun Sen’s visit to Sydney to attend the Asean-Australia Special Summit in March 2018.
In response to Ms Rachana’s protests, Mr Hun Sen said he was still investigating her husband’s death.
“Ms Bou is wrong in seeing me as her enemy […] seriously wrong,” Mr Hun Sen said. “Why do you accuse me of killing Kem Ley? On the contrary, I respected him as a political analyst. Kem Ley did not oppose Hun Sen; he arranged to meet with me.”