Petroleum giant Chevron is trying to back out of an agreement to hand over documents potentially related to the assassination of political analyst Kem Ley that were requested by Sam Rainsy, claiming the former opposition leader would use them for nonlegal reasons amounting to “Facebook fodder”.
Chevron, which owns the Caltex station where Ley was gunned down on July 10 last year, said Rainsy’s “insistence on non-litigation use of the documents” raised “a red flag”.
The discovery request was made in relation to two court cases – Rainsy’s defamation conviction over his claims Ley’s murder was an act of “state-sponsored terrorism”, and an International Criminal Court case accusing Cambodian officials of crimes against humanity.
In statements filed on September 1 that were made available this week, the company questions whether Rainsy will actually appeal his defamation conviction. It also criticises him for telling local media that he would not do so, while then claiming to the company at the end of August that the filing of an appeal was imminent.
“Chevron’s concern for the misuse of its subsidiaries’ internal documents and abuse of the discovery process has been further confirmed by the revelation that Mr. Rainsy continues to demand documents even though his appeal is now over and he has publicly stated that he has no intention of litigating further in Cambodia,” Chevron said. “The end of Mr. Rainsy’s Cambodian proceeding renders this . . . proceeding moot, depriving the Court of jurisdiction.”
Chevron went on to say its employees should not “be put in the position of becoming Facebook fodder to further objectives unrelated to litigating the designated foreign proceedings”. The statements barely touched on the ICC case, except to say that Chevron does not believe the discovery request applies to it.
Lawyers for Rainsy and the ICC plaintiffs, however, dismissed Chevron’s arguments.
“Chevron attempts to bolster its position by citing supposed ‘security’ concerns justifying deviation from the August 4 Order . . . The argument is a red herring,” they wrote, adding that Chevron would burden them by placing “a gag” on the discussion of evidence and non-confidential material, such as communications from Cambodian officials and descriptions of footage of the incident.
“Chevron’s allegations are misguided and attacks on Mr. Sam [Rainsy] unprofessional,” they said, adding Rainsy “unequivocally continues to exercise his appellate rights”.
California Northern District Judge Donna Ryu will hold a hearing on the matter on September 28.