A U.S. court has ruled that former opposition leader Sam Rainsy may issue a subpoena to energy giant Chevron seeking surveillance video footage of government critic Kem Ley’s murder at one of its gas stations in Phnom Penh in July.
The request, filed in December by Mr. Rainsy and a group of Cambodian citizens, was approved on Thursday, according to a court decision Mr. Rainsy posted to Facebook on Friday.
Police officers inspect the scene of Kem Ley’s murder at a Caltex gas station in Phnom Penh on July 10. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)“Applicants may serve a finalized version of the subpoena attached,” the court order, issued by a district court in northern California, says. Chevron, which operates as Caltex in Cambodia, will have 30 days to contest the subpoena once it is served, it says.
Mr. Rainsy wrote on his Facebook page: “This breakthrough is a step towards proving the involvement of Cambodia’s government in Dr. Kem Ley’s murder.”
Kem Ley was shot dead on the morning of July 10 at a Caltex gas station in Phnom Penh. A man has been arrested for the murder—his trial is set to begin next month—but many suspect that he was merely a hired gun.
Mr. Rainsy has said the killing was an “act of state-sponsored terrorism,” and compared it to previous murders of other government critics, which are widely seen as government-backed hits.
Mr. Rainsy and the other applicants are seeking the gas station’s video footage and audio recordings from July 1 to July 14, documents identifying staff employed at the station during the same period and the release of “all communications with any agent, employee or instrumentality of the Cambodian government” regarding Kem Ley.
Prime Minister Hun Sen sued Mr. Rainsy for defamation in August over his claims of government involvement in the murder.
The evidence Mr. Rainsy is seeking would be presented in the pending defamation suit, as well as a complaint that was filed before the International Criminal Court by a CNRP-aligned attorney in 2014 and updated last year following Kem Ley’s murder accusing the Cambodian government of committing crimes against humanity.
Spokespeople for San Francisco-based Chevron did not immediately respond to questions on Sunday.
Mr. Rainsy, who entered exile in November 2015 to avoid prison time over another defamation case, resigned as president of the CNRP on Saturday amid moves by Mr. Hun Sen to dissolve the opposition party if Mr. Rainsy remained its head.
hawkins@cambodiadaily.com
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