The man who allegedly gunned down political analyst Kem Ley on Sunday rang his wife several times the night before from a guesthouse to say he “could not sleep”, according to local police who have interviewed the family.
Oeut Ang, 44, was charged on Wednesday with premeditated murder and illegally possessing a weapon after allegedly shooting the activist with a Glock handgun as he drank coffee at a gas station in Phnom Penh.
Though Ang said in a recorded video confession broadcast on television that he shot Ley because the critic owed him money, the members of the suspect’s family, including his wife and mother, have noted the suspect had never mentioned Ley or a debt.
As speculation swirls about a political motive and state involvement, district and provincial police have spent several hours grilling Ang’s family, including his wife Hoeum Hout, 45, who lives in Nokor Pheas commune in Siem Reap province’s Angkor Chum district.
Speaking yesterday, Angkor Chum district police chief Mann Sokhab said Hout told them the suspect – who according to his family left the commune for Phnom Penh on July 1 – had a largely sleepless night before the murder.
“He had called his wife five times to say that he could not sleep,” said Sokhab.
“The wife asked where he slept and he told her that he slept at the guesthouse . . . The last time he called was 3am to again tell her he couldn’t sleep.”
Sokhab said that three days before the shooting, Ang had also been in touch with a friend at an environmental NGO at which he had worked to tell him that he had “got a job” in Phnom Penh.
Chhoeun Thoeng, village chief of Nokor Pheas II where the suspect lived, said district and provincial police officers had spent several hours interrogating Hout to establish the suspect’s background. However, Siem Reap provincial police chief Sort Nady denied his officers had questioned the family.
Meanwhile, prosecutor handling the case Ly Sophanna yesterday again declined to identify a second suspect charged on Wednesday with selling the firearm to Ang, saying it would impact the investigation.