Killer of Cambodian activist Kem Ley sentenced to life

Cambodian Oeuth Ang, in prison uniform and facing away from the camera, behind the a police van wire mesh, outside court in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 23 March 2017. Image copyright EPA
Image caption Oeuth Ang, here in a police van outside court, said the killing was over a soured property deal

A Cambodian court has sentenced a man to life in prison, for the murder of a prominent activist and government critic.

Kem Ley was shot at a cafe in the capital Phnom Penh last year, in a killing that shocked the country.

Oeuth Ang, who goes by the name "Chuob Samlab" (Meet to Kill), admitted the killing, saying it was over money.

Rights groups believe Kem Ley was probably killed for his outspoken criticism of the government.

Oeuth Ang, a former soldier, was found guilty of murder and illegal possession of a firearm.

Assassinations of high-profile activists are not uncommon in the country.

Over the past two years a growing number of anti-government campaigners and politicians have been prosecuted on what they say are trumped-up charges, says the BBC's South East Asia correspondent Jonathan Head.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Kem Ley was involved in grassroots activist groups in Cambodia

Hun Sen, who has ruled Cambodia for more than three decades, is accused of increasingly authoritarian rule.

The country has also pushed through legislation allowing political parties to be dissolved if their leaders have criminal convictions, a measure critics believe is intended to ensure Hun Sen's party wins the coming general election, due next year, our correspondent adds.

Kem Ley had called for a new era of clean politics. Days before his death he had commented on a report exposing the business dealings of Hun Sen and his family.

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