Chut Wutty’s funeral ceremony in Kandal province, April 28, 2012.
Family members of slain Cambodian environmental activist Chut Wutty on
Friday held a Buddhist ceremony to mark the one-year anniversary of his
death, calling for the reopening of investigations into his murder and
urging authorities to find his “true killer.”
The call came as
members of Cambodia’s civil society held a memorial service for the
activist in the country’s capital Phnom Penh, appealing to the
government to end a “culture of impunity” they say prevented him from
During a ceremony in southern Cambodia's Koh
Kong province, Chut Wutty’s brother-in-law, Yong Sokhorn, appealed to
authorities to continue the probe into his murder although a private
security official was convicted in relation to the case.
government must reconsider and reopen the case in order to find the true
killer and determine who was behind the killing,” he said, speaking in
front of the logging company in Mondul Seima district where Chut Wutty
was gunned down last April while investigating illegal logging
Court proceedings on Chut Wutty’s case—the
highest-profile death of a Cambodian activist in years—ended in October
last year after a court in Koh Kong convicted a logging company’s
security chief for the killing of a military officer accused of
murdering Chut Wutty.
Timber Green Logging Company security chief
Rann Borath was sentenced to two years in prison for the “unintentional
murder” of military officer In Rattana, who judges said had fatally
shot Chut Wutty.
Chut Wutty’s son, Chhoeuy Odomraksmey, told
RFA’s Khmer Service that the convicted security chief is only in prison
as a “scapegoat” in the incident.
He said his family wanted “justice” and urged authorities to put “the real killer” behind bars.
court must summon all suspects, including military officers and
soldiers who were stationed in the area, to be questioned,” said Chhoeuy
Odomraksmey, who is now the director of his father's NGO, the Natural
Resource Protection Group.
“We can’t allow [an unjust verdict] to stand,” he said.
Odomraksmey also appealed to the people of Cambodia for assistance in
funding his NGOs, saying that after his father’s death, forest crimes
Rights groups weigh in
Conflicting accounts of the deaths of Chut Wutty and In Rattana sparked accusations of a government cover-up of the murder.
case was decried as unfair and unjust by rights groups which alleged
the authorities had “intentionally” closed off examination into the
activist’s death by placing the blame on a dead man.
Geneva-based World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) on Friday also
expressed “deep concern about the lack of significant progress in the
investigation into his murder.”
“We strongly condemn the
prevailing impunity in Mr. Chut Wutty’s murder, and we urge the
Cambodian authorities to finally establish the full truth and bring to
justice all those responsible,” said OMCT Secretary General Gerald
“The authorities of Cambodia should also ensure in
all circumstances that defenders of economic, social and cultural rights
are able to work without any fear of reprisals”, added FIDH President
Phnom Penh memorial
Friday, a group of nongovernmental organizations held a commemoration
ceremony for Chut Wutty in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, calling for
the investigation into his death to be reopened.
and Service Workers' Federation president Sar Mora said the government
must “end its culture of impunity” and “provide justice” to Chut Wutty
and his family.
“Chut Wutty tried his best to protect the forest, but he was killed for his efforts. This is very unjust,” he said.
“We urge the government to provide Chut Wutty with justice and to encourage people to remember him.”
The government has so far not responded to appeals on the activist’s behalf.
the day he was found murdered, Chut Wutty had been leading two
journalists to see what he believed were illegal logging activities near
a Chinese-built dam in Koh Kong.
The activist had also been
involved in organizing communities around Cambodia to protect forests
from land grabs and illegal logging and had campaigned against the
government's granting of land concessions in national parks and wildlife
Four months after Chut Wutty’s death, Hang Serei
Oudom, a journalist who had exposed illegal logging and forest crimes
involving local elites in Ratanakiri province, was found dead in the
trunk of his car.
Authorities have arrested a military police officer and his wife as suspects in the case.