PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — A court in Cambodia on Thursday formally charged two men in connection with protests marking the third anniversary of the killing of a prominent government critic.
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court brought charges of incitement to commit a felony against two of seven people detained this week in connection with the anniversary of the July 10, 2016, shooting of Kem Ley, court spokesman Kouch Kimlong said.
One of the men, Kong Raiya, was arrested Tuesday for producing T-shirts bearing the image of Kem Ley and wording the authorities charged was provocative. He was convicted on the same charge for anti-government activities in 2016. The other man, Suong Neakpon, was arrested Wednesday for attempting to take part in a protest with several dozen other people at the site of Kem Ley’s killing at a convenience store in Phnom Penh.
The other detainees were released without charges after questioning.
Kem Ley was killed shortly after he spoke on radio about a report alleging that Prime Minister Hun Sen’s family had taken advantage of its connections for financial gain.
His convicted murderer said he acted because Kem Ley owed him money, but it was widely believed that the killing was politically motivated.
Tens of thousands of people joined Kem Ley’s funeral in protest of Hun Sen’s authoritarian rule, which hardened after the killing with the closure of independent media and a court decision that dissolved the only credible opposition party ahead of a 2018 general election.
On Tuesday, 24 Cambodian and international human rights groups issued a joint declaration calling on the government “to conduct a thorough and effective investigation” into Kem Ley’s killing.
“It has been three years since significant gaps were highlighted in the investigation and trial of Kem Ley’s case, which need to be remedied through an independent, impartial and effective investigation,” said Frederick Rawski, director for Asia and the Pacific of the International Commission of Jurists. “The lack of progress reflects a clear lack of political will by the Cambodian government towards meeting its obligations under international law to fully and impartially investigate a potentially unlawful death and protect the rights to life and to effective remedy.”