Former opposition leader Sam Rainsy’s hopes of having energy giant Chevron release surveillance footage of political analyst Kem Ley’s murder at one of its gas stations dissipated on Friday as the company said all the recordings were in the hands of the Cambodian authorities.
In December, Mr. Rainsy and a group of Cambodian citizens filed a request with a U.S. court requesting it order Chevron to release the CCTV video footage of the shooting, along with the hours before and after.
People gather outside a Caltex Star Mart, operated by US-based oil giant Chevron, in the hours after the shooting of political analyst Kem Ley in Phnom Penh on July 10. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily) A district court in northern California, where Chevron has its headquarters, ruled in the middle of last month that Mr. Rainsy could subpoena the company, but gave it 30 days to respond.
Contacted on Friday, Chevron issued a statement, first published by The New York Times, claiming that it did not have the footage being sought.
“The digital video recorder along with the recording it contained were removed by the police within hours of the incident and have not been returned. All of the cameras from the service station fed into that single recording device confiscated by the authorities,” it said.
The CCTV footage of the shooting of Kem Ley has been a highly contentious topic as his supporters push for justice in a murder widely believed to be politically motivated.
When segments of the footage were finally uploaded by government mouthpiece Fresh News earlier this month, many questioned why it did not include video footage of gunman Oeuth Ang—who was sentenced to life in prison for the murder on Thursday—in the hours before the attack.
Mr. Rainsy said he was deflated by the news that Chevron was not in possession of the footage, but that efforts to push for its release must continue.
“Of course I am disappointed with the loss of possibility to show the truth through this recording,” Mr. Rainsy said in an email.
“But we must fight to push the government to give the footage back to Chevron or give it to independent experts mandated by an independent justice to check whether the piece shown at the Cambodian court had been edited by the authorities,” he said.
Pa Nguon Teang, a friend of Kem Ley’s and director of Voice of Democracy, a radio and online news service, said Chevron should demand the footage back from the police.
“The killing happened in the private place of the company and the CCTV is under control of the company. Even though they gave it to the police and they say they don’t have it, they should try to demand it from the police because this is their property,” he said.
“I think everything is in the hands of the police now,” he added. “If the police return it, the company can know for sure if it is the whole story or not.”
wright@cambodiadaily.com
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