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Govt to sue over murder claims

Govt to sue over murder claims

090821_02
Chea Mony sorts through photos of his brother Chea Vichea’s murder at his home in Phnom Penh on Thursday.

THE government is set to sue the brother of slain union leader Chea Vichea over comments he made accusing the government of involvement in his brother's 2004 death, government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Thursday.

"[Chea Mony] said that the government planned to kill Chea Vichea," he said.

"[If] Mr Chea Mony accuses [the government], he has to find enough evidence to show that the government had plans to kill Chea Vichea."

He added that government lawyers were currently drawing up the necessary documents for the case.

"[We] have to sue him. If the government does not sue him, it implies that the government acknowledges its involvement in plans to kill Chea Vichea," Khieu Kanharith said.

On August 17, the Appeal Court ordered further investigations in the Chea Vichea case following requests from the defence lawyers of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, the two men convicted in the gunning down of the former head of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions in 2004.

Speaking at the court, Chea Mony, Chea Vichea's brother and president of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, said he remained convinced the government was behind the killing.

"I maintain my stance from the beginning and acknowledge that [Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun] were fake killers, and I urge the court to find the real killers," he said.

"I am ready to take responsibility and dare to be imprisoned for my conclusion about my brother's murder case, which is that the government prepared a plan to kill my brother."

When contacted Thursday, Chea Mony remained defiant, saying he was repeating the same allegations he has been making for four years and was not scared by threats of legal action.

"What I raised was not an exaggeration - it was the truth," he said.

"The government has an obligation to find the killers. If the government does not seek the killers, it means the government must be behind the killing."

He said that Chea Vichea was killed on the watch of former Phnom Penh police chief Heng Pov, who has since been found guilty of an arrary of murder, kidnapping and extortion charges, and that there was also a suggestion of official involvement in his brother's case.

Rights groups said the government's decision to sue Chea Mony only cast a harsher light on its own weak efforts to solve the Chea Vichea case.

"The fact that the authorities have failed to bring the real killers of Chea Vichea to justice, and that fake killers were obviously framed for this murder, will inevitably lead to suspicions and accusations against the government," said Kek Gelabru, president of the rights group Licadho.

"The best way for the government to be cleared of suspicion is for Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun to be fully exonerated, and for the police and courts to begin a credible and proper investigation into who did kill Chea Vichea. Until this is done, suspicions will linger."

She also called for a full investigation into the handling of the case against Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, "in particular, into the actions of the police who were responsible for the investigation and their arrest".

Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, said that due to "serious doubts" about the Chea Vichea case, his brother had legitimate reasons to question the government's motives.

"There's been no real attempt by the Cambodian government to investigate [Chea Vichea's death]," he said.

"I wouldn't blame him for thinking the government has something to hide."

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SAM RITH

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