Oeut Ang, the former soldier and ex-monk charged with gunning down political analyst Kem Ley, met with district and military officials about a week prior to the murder, a report by Al Jazeera has alleged.
In a video report released on Friday, the news outlet says they spoke to multiple sources in Ang’s native Siem Reap province who said the suspect was called to a meeting with “senior district and military officials” about a week before Ley was shot dead in a Phnom Penh gas station on July 10.
“Straight after the meeting [Ang] was put in a car and driven out of the area,” stated the report, which said the sources declined to appear on camera.
Despite a six-month investigation, which closed in December, police have failed to provide any clarity about the circumstances surrounding the slaying, including how Ang travelled from his home in Nokor Pheas commune in Siem Reap’s Angkor Chum district to the capital.
Al Jazeera spoke with a taxi driver, who they said was among the last people to see Ang in Siem Reap.
The man, identified as Deuk Dian, said he dropped the suspect at a taxi stand on the outskirts of Siem Reap town, where he was picked up by a Lexus.
“He was in a hurry, he didn’t even pay my taxi fare,” the driver said.
Ang was caught about 1.5 kilometres from the murder scene. Police quickly released a video confession, in which he claimed to have killed Ley over a $3,000 debt.
That motive, however, is widely doubted, with those close to Ley and the alleged killer saying the pair had never met, while many have noted that Ang had little money. Many believe the critic’s murder was a political assassination.
Reached yesterday, Angkor Chum district police chief Mann Sokhab denied there was any meeting between Ang and military or government officials.
Sokhab said that, as a monk, Ang had previously travelled to Phnom Penh and received money for pagoda renovations, though he said he did not know who supplied the cash.
“We just know that he went to Phnom Penh and became a murderer,” Sokhab said.