Source: Khmer Times
Scuffles marked a rally in Phnom Penh yesterday to mark the fifth anniversary of the killing of outspoken environmental activist Chut Wutty.
About 100 people gathered outside the Royal Palace, wearing black T-shirts and holding photos of the dead man.
They had been hoping to watch a banned movie “I am Chut Wutty.” but the rally was soon broken up by dozens of Daun Penh security guards.
They confiscated and tore the photos but then struggled to disperse the protesters, who knelt down as if to meditate.
One senior security guard said he had been sent to break up the rally because it affected public security and had not been approved.
“I allowed them only five minutes each to pray,” he said. “Then if they still refused to go I broke them up. That was the order I’d received from above.”
Mr. Wutty’s family repeated its claim of a government cover-up. His son, Chheuy Oddom Rasmey, said in the five years since his death they were no closer to gaining justice and they hoped the protest would remind people about his father’s brave stand against illegal loggers, especially the rich and powerful.
“It is five years and still the family has not received justice,” said Mr. Oddom Rasmey. “I strongly believe the government turned a blind eye to it.
The family believes that In Rattana, the man who fired the fatal shots and himself was shot dead soon after, had not acted alone.
“I do not believe In Rattana killed my father alone because he knew my father very well,” said Mr. Oddom Rasmey. “We want to know who ordered the killing.”
Tim Malay, president of Cambodian Youth Network, urged the government to reopen the case.
“We would like to deliver a message to the court and relevant ministries that we cannot accept the decision to close the case on Mr. Wutty’s shooting,” he said.
Another protester, 81-year-old Toek Phan, said he had traveled from Kampong Chhnang province to pay his respects to a great man.
“I love him because he dared to die to protect the forests,” he said. “How could I not come? If I had not come I wouldn’t be a real human being.”
Mr. Wutty was shot dead on April 26, 2012, while accompanying two local journalists investigating illegal logging in Mondul Seima district’s Bak Khlang commune.
Ran Borath, who worked for logging firm Timber Green, was found guilty by Koh Kong Provincial Court in October 2012 of the “accidental killing” of Mr. Rattana, but only served six months of his two-year sentence.
Justice Ministry spokesman Chin Malin said he had no comment because the man responsible had been caught and served his time. “Everything is finished in this case,” he said.
International human rights group Global Witness yesterday described Chut Wutty as one of Cambodia’s most vocal environmental activists and said he had been one of the few people willing to speak out against illegal logging and land grabbing.