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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Justice still sought for Vichea

Cambodia National Rescue Party leader Sam Rainsy
Cambodia National Rescue Party leader Sam Rainsy places incense as he prays to mark the 11th anniversary of the death of labour leader Chea Vichea in Phnom Penh yesterday. Vireak Mai

Justice still sought for Vichea

On the 11th anniversary of labour leader Chea Vichea’s assassination yesterday, about 200 people attended a memorial service as many continued to call on authorities to find and arrest those responsible for Vichea’s 2004 murder.

Opposition party leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha, along with the likes of Beehive Radio host Mam Sonando and Cambodian Confederation of Unions president Rong Chhun, demanded that the government and police prioritise the investigation.

“Some [ministry] leaders are ageing, nearing the age of death,” said Chea Mony, Vichea’s brother who replaced him as president of the Free Trade Union (FTU). “But before they die, I ask them to find the murderers.”

Calls for increased urgency in the investigation come nearly a year after the Supreme Court ordered the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to reopen the investigation.

The Supreme Court ordered the inquiry’s reopening after they determined in September of 2013 that there was no evidence that Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, the two people the municipal court convicted of the crime, were guilty.

Since the investigation recommenced last March, police have failed to produce any results, Kao Ty, Vichea’s family’s attorney, said yesterday.

“I asked the court two weeks ago about this case, but the court has not yet received any result of the investigation from police,” Ty said.

Vichea, an outspoken supporter of the labour rights movement, was shot dead at a newspaper stand outside Wat Langka on January 22, 2004. The gunman jumped on the back of a motorbike and fled the scene with his accomplice.

CNRP president Sam Rainsy said at the ceremony yesterday that closure is still needed.

“We must urge that the investigation is completed and action is taken by an independent court,” Rainsy said.

Since the murder, Cambodia’s labour rights movement has shifted, with higher minimum wages and growing prominence of labour unions, said Dave Welsh, country director of labour rights group the Solidarity Center.

But even though labour issues in Cambodia are gaining international attention, there is still a long way to go, Welsh said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SEAN TEEHAN

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