An Australian politician has called on that country’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to urge the Cambodian government to establish a commission of inquiry into the murder of activist Kem Ley.
On Friday, Julian Hill, the Australian House of Representatives member for Bruce, posted a letter of request dated October 10 on his Facebook page.
The letter, which was addressed to Marise Payne – the newly elected Minister for Foreign Affairs, says: “As such, I request that you, on behalf of the Australian Government, formally call upon the Cambodian regime to establish a commission of inquiry properly and appropriately capable of undertaking an independent, impartial, effective and transparent investigation into Dr Ley’s death, or allow the international community to conduct such an investigation if the Government of Cambodia lacks the capability or capacity to do so itself.”
Hill said if the Cambodian government rejects such a reasonable request, then further options would become available, as dictated by international law.
Those possible options, he said, are crucial for Australia and other like-minded nations to shed light on the case by carrying out a thorough investigation into the murder and holding accountable, those responsible for it.
Hill also wrote that despite Australia’s effort in protecting Ley’s family, the Australian government has not done enough to pressure the Cambodian government to conduct a proper investigation to solve the case.
An activist known for his criticisms aimed at the ruling party, Ley was shot twice with a Glock handgun at a Caltex petrol station cafe in the capital’s Monivong Boulevard on July 10, 2016. He was 45.
Oeut Ang, the man arrested some 20 minutes later, was sentenced to life in prison last year after being convicted of murder.
Ang, who upon his arrest called himself Choub Samlab, which means “meet to kill” in Khmer, said he shot Ley over a $3,000 debt – claims dismissed by Ley’s family.
Speaking to The Post, Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin responded to Hill’s request, saying: “He has the right to make the request.
“However, looking at domestic procedures, it is not necessary because the case has been processed in accordance with the law in Cambodia. The perpetrator has been sentenced to life imprisonment . . . [that sentence] is based on the country’s constitution.”
He continued that the case is going forward, highlighting the authorities’ efforts in finding all parties involved in the murder, especially the ones responsible for supplying the gun to the shooter.
“Therefore it is not necessary to convene another investigating committee,” he said.
Malin also noted that Ang is now filing an appeal to the Supreme court.
“It is his right to file an appeal,” he added.
The Post could not reach Ley’s wife Bou Rachana, for comment as of press time. She had left for Australia after the shooting and has been living in that country ever since.