Oeut Ang, notorious as “Chuob Samlab” – the man who killed Kem Ley – repeated his admission on Wednesday that he murdered the popular activist in 2016 and requested the Supreme Court reduce his life sentence for the murder.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court found Ang guilty in March 2017 and handed down a whole-life jail term, a ruling later upheld by the Appeal Court.
Ang told Presiding Judge Soeung Panhavuth that his real was name was Chuob Samlab, which translates “Meet to Kill” in Khmer and not Oeut Ang as people often called him. He said he was the person who shot Ley dead.
“I filed an appeal with the [Supreme Court] because the two lower courts punished me too harshly. I understand my actions were bad,” he said.
Looking uneasy, Ang pointed at his head to indicate that he did not recall much of what happened in the shooting as he answered the judge’s questions.
Kem Ley’s widow Bou Rachana did not attend court.
Prosecutor Chum Samban said the Appeal Court’s decision to uphold the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s original sentence was correct.
“The convicted person confessed that he is the person who killed Kem Ley in a petrol station coffee shop. After being arrested, the police found a handgun.
The Appeal Court’s ruling was based on reason, so I would like to request that the Supreme Court upholds it,” Samban said.
Ang’s defence lawyer Im Mach said his client, while he acknowledged his guilt, had appealed to the Supreme Court to reduce the whole life prison term due to the severity of the sentence.
Mach argued that the length of the punishment was arrived at after Ley had been adjudged to have been murdered “brutally”. However, he said he had never before seen a whole-life sentence handed down, even in cases in which the killing had been far more “brutal” than by shooting.
Mach dismissed prosecution claims that his client had been a former monk and soldier.
“My client would like to deny the allegations that he was a former monk, an official at the Ministry of Environment and soldier. With this given as his background, the courts felt he should have known better than to kill people."
“The Appeal Court’s assessment led to my client’s request for a reduced sentence being denied. With this considered, I ask the Supreme Court to reduce my clients’ punishment,” he said.
Ang was convicted of the July 10, 2016 killing of Ley at a Star Mart on a Caltex petrol station forecourt in Phnom Penh. Police arrested him just minutes after the shooting.
He was charged with premeditated murder and the illegal possession of a firearm under articles 200 and 490 of the Criminal Code.
He was found guilty at his trial at Phnom Penh Municipal Court on March 23, 2017, and given a whole life prison sentence. The Appeal Court upheld the decision on May 11, 2018.
Judge Panhavuth said the court will announce its verdict on May 24.