Ang – who has called himself “Choub Samlab”, which translates in English to “meet to kill”, since his arrest – confessed during his trial to shooting the prominent critic at a Phnom Penh gas station on July 10 last year over a $3,000 unpaid debt, a motive that remains widely doubted.
The ex-monk and former soldier remained largely expressionless throughout the 40-minute sentencing hearing as judge Leang Samnath summarised testimony and evidence in the case before delivering the verdict.
“Having listened to the accused, victim family, prosecutor, lawyer, and having consulted with the laws, the court decides to sentence Oeut Ang, aka Choub Samlab, to life in prison for premeditated murder and illegal gun possession committed on July 10, 2016 in Starmart Bokor,” Samnat said.
"Prison guards, take accused to implement the sentence in prison.”
Ang shot Ley twice point blank just after 9am as he enjoyed his regular morning coffee at the petrol station.
The murder was captured on CCTV, which was shown to the court during the trial and later released, along with footage of Ang’s flight from the scene on foot through the streets of Phnom Penh.
However evidence presented during the trial did little to quell widespread suspicions that the critic’s murder was politically motivated.
Among multiple inconsistencies and questions unanswered is the killer’s claim that he gave Ley $3,000 in exchange for a job and house. No evidence, other than Ang’s testimony, was presented to back up this claim.
Ang claimed he grew angry and shot Ley for not repaying the debt.
However, both the families of the killer and victim say the pair had never met, with Ang’s wife saying her husband was poor and did not have money to lend.