Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen blames US, CNRP for Kem Ley killing

Hun Sen blames US, CNRP for Kem Ley killing

Thousands join Kem Ley’s funeral procession in Phnom Penh in July 2016. During a visit to Australia, Prime Minister Hun Sen accused the CNRP and US of being behind the revered analyst’s murder.
Thousands join Kem Ley’s funeral procession in Phnom Penh in July 2016. During a visit to Australia, Prime Minister Hun Sen accused the CNRP and US of being behind the revered analyst’s murder. Athena Zelandonii

Hun Sen blames US, CNRP for Kem Ley killing

Prime Minister Hun Sen denied playing a role in the assassination of government critic Kem Ley on Friday, instead implying the United States and the Cambodia National Rescue Party were behind the hit.

In July 2016, Ley was gunned down in broad daylight by a former soldier days after speaking openly about recent revelations of the extent of the Hun family’s fortune. His widow, Bou Rachana, fled to Thailand before recently receiving asylum in Australia, where she led protests against Hun Sen’s recent visit.

“Now, I heard his wife is using the topic of Kem Ley to demonstrate against me. They said I killed Kem Ley,” the premier said to supporters in Australia on Friday. Many observers, including Sam Rainsy, former president of the CNRP, believed the government ordered the hit. Rainsy was slapped with a defamation conviction for the accusation.

Instead, the premier suggested that the CNRP is truly to blame.

Claiming he had plans to meet with Ley on July 18 or 19, just days after his murder, Hun Sen asked, “who benefited from the death of Kem Ley?”

“Not Hun Sen’s government, and not Hun Sen. It clearly benefits the opposition party,” he said.

“Kem Ley was not the one who was against the government, but made an effort to meet Hun Sen,” he said of the frequent government critic.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Bou Rachana, the wife of murdered Cambodian analyst Kem Ley, speaks as Australian Cambodians gather to protest the presence of Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Sydney on March 16 2018. Peter Parks/AFP

The premier also urged Rachana not to be “confused”.

“You are very mistaken, and now the stupa of your husband, I was the one who paid for that . . . Your family didn’t have enough money and made an appeal and I paid for that,” Hun Sen said.

Claiming he “respected [Ley’s] analysis”, Hun Sen said a “black-handed intelligence group” ordered the hit to serve the opposition party.

The CNRP was forcibly dissolved last year for allegedly working with America to topple the Cambodian government, a charge that has been widely dismissed as a pretense to ensure the ruling party wins the next election.

“They destroyed Kem Ley’s life because Kem Ley had the purpose to create a political party separate from the opposition party,” he said.

In an email on Sunday, Rainsy dismissed Hun Sen’s “crazy accusation”, saying it was meant to divert attention from Hun Sen’s own alleged culpability, and was hypocritical given he sued Rainsy for suggesting the government was behind the murder. “Where is Hun Sen’s sense of honour and his priority in ‘defending’ the truth?” Rainsy asked.

Ex-CNRP Deputy President Mu Sochua repeated a challenge that opposition figures have presented from the beginning: that Hun Sen set up “an independent investigation in the killing”.

In an interview with Radio Free Asia on Saturday, Rachana also rejected claims America or the CNRP were behind the murder, noting the government harassed the family over Ley’s funeral procession. “If [Hun Sen] is good and he loves my husband, why did he try to prevent us every time?” she asked.

MOST VIEWED

  • Forest Harmony’s $18M luxury villas break ground in Kampot

    Local and French joint-venture Forest Harmony has broken ground on its $18 million “second-home” Luxury Holiday Villas project in Kampot province. Century 21 Mekong CEO and local shareholder of the project Chrek Soknim told The Post that the project will comprise 90 villa units covering 18ha on a 97

  • US, Cambodia pledge to strengthen military ties

    The US on Tuesday pledged to help train military officers, particularly Cambodia’s blue helmet troops deployed for UN’s peacekeeping operations. The pledge was made during a meeting between US ambassador Patrick Murphy and Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) commander-in-chief General Vong Pisen. Further

  • Rights Day forum denied in Sihanoukville

    The Preah Sihanouk provincial administration last Saturday denied the request of land communities for a public location in the province to celebrate International Human Rights Day 2019 as the administration had already held forums to discuss land issues. However, the land community representatives said they would

  • Sokha lodges an appeal over treason case reaching court

    Kem Sokha, the president of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), has appealed against the decision to send his treason case to trial. Sokha’s legal team said their client was not satisfied with the decision of a Phnom Penh Municipal Court investigating

  • Gov’t approves $9B worth of building projects in 2019

    The government has approved more than $9 billion this year for capital investment in the construction sector, a nearly 80 per cent increase on last year, with most of the growth coming from projects in Sihanoukville, according to Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction Chea

  • US imposes sanctions on Oknha Pheap and Kun Kim

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation expressed strong dismay on Monday over the designation of Cambodian tycoon Oknha Try Pheap and General Kun Kim under the US’ Global Magnitsky Act. “It is very disturbing when the public figures of a country become the