The defense lawyer for Eurth Ang, who allegedly killed noted political commentator Kem Ley last July, will attend the first court hearing today after meeting with his client and deciding a delay was not necessary.
Yong Phanith, a lawyer assigned to Mr. Ang by the Bar Association, initially told the press he was seeking a postponement of the first hearing after receiving the case less than two weeks ago.
However, after receiving the case file and speaking with his client, he said he was ready.
“I have already discussed [things] with my client, so I will attend the hearing as planned by the court,” he said.
Mr. Ang was charged with premeditated murder and “carrying or transporting a weapon without authorization” following his arrest minutes after Mr. Ley was shot and killed at a gas station coffee shop in Phnom Penh on July 10.
Judge Leang Samnat has been assigned to the case and Ly Sophana will serve as prosecutor.
Despite arresting Mr. Ang shortly after the crime and him admitting to murdering Mr. Ley, more than seven months have passed and little information has been released by police.
Both Mr. Ang’s wife and his mother said he had never met Mr. Ley before and refuted his claim that he killed Mr. Ley over an outstanding $3,000 debt.
Critics have also taken issue over the security camera footage from the Caltex gas station that day which the government has refused to release to the public.
Former opposition leader Sam Rainsy recently filed a court case in the United States and won the right to subpoena Chevron, the American energy corporation that owns Caltex, for the videotape.
Mr. Ley’s wife and four children fled the country out of fear for their safety last August, saying a number of threats had been leveled against them after his death. They were last seen in Thailand, where Mr. Ley’s wife gave birth to their fifth child, but they are allegedly seeking asylum in a third country.
Mr. Ang’s wife, Hem Hort, said she will not attend the hearing because she was just released from hospital and does not have the money to cover transportation. However, she believes her husband is innocent because he did not know Mr. Ley.
“Until now, I still do not believe that my husband is the killer because he had no job relating to [Mr. Ley] in Phnom Penh,” she said.
“My husband is innocent.”
She said she has not been able to visit her husband since his arrest because she does not have the money to travel from their home in Siem Reap City to Phnom Penh.
“I want to see my husband, but I don’t have the money,” she said.
But Buntenh, the head of the Independent Monk Network for Social Justice and a member of Mr. Ley’s funeral committee, said the hand-wringing over the judicial process was a dishonest political ploy designed to end honest inquiries into what happened.
“Mr. Kem Ley’s supporters have to organize their own judicial system which should not wait for this theatrical justice. To prepare the justice system, we need the elections to choose good local leaders and then dare to choose leaders of the nation who are clean,” he said.
Multiple opposition members and government critics have claimed the government or the ruling party was behind Mr. Ley’s murder, citing his participation in a media roundtable discussing a Global Witness report on Prime Minister Hun Sen’s wealth days before his death as evidence that it was an assassination.
Political analyst Kim Sok was arrested after claiming the ruling CPP was behind the murder and opposition politicians Thak Lany and Mr. Rainsy have either fled or stayed abroad after being threatened with arrest for slander by the premier.
Source: Khmer Times