Cambodian court denies justice to family of murdered activist Chut Wutty
For immediate release: Monday 22 October 2012
A Cambodian court announced today that the man charged with killing the alleged murderer of environmental activist Chut Wutty will be released from prison on 3 November 2012. Charged with “unintentional murder”, Ran Boroth was given a two-year prison sentence, the majority of which has been suspended. This means that he will be out in just two weeks time. The verdict comes just a few weeks after the same provincial court decided to abandon its investigation into Chut Wutty’s murder.
Chut Wutty, director of the Natural Resource Protection Group (NRPG) was shot and killed on 26 April while researching alleged illegal logging and land seizures in Koh Kong Province. Despite international calls for a robust investigation, the response from the Cambodian authorities has been erratic and ineffectual. Today's decision draws a line under a deeply flawed investigation which produced a range of highly questionable explanations as to how Wutty was killed.
"The court’s decision represents a victory for Cambodia’s corrupt business and political elite,” said Patrick Alley, Director of Global Witness. "It sends a clear signal that those who attack and kill the brave few who stand up for the rights of ordinary Cambodians can do so with impunity.”
Chut Wutty’s murder is part of a worsening crisis sweeping Cambodia. Since 2008, two million hectares of land has been sold off to investors, with hundreds of thousands of people being pushed off their land and into poverty. As more people are compelled to speak out against land grabs and illegal logging, the government’s response to dissent has become increasingly severe. In May, just weeks after Wutty’s murder, a 14 year old girl was shot and killed by military police. Just last month, Hang Serei Oudon, a journalist reporting on illegal logging, was found brutally murdered in the trunk of his car.
“Those countries that give aid to the Cambodian government must insist on an independent investigation into the death of Wutty and the other activists and journalists killed in 2012 for exposing the theft of Cambodia's land and forests," said Patrick Alley. “The Cambodian government’s friends have a clear choice between taking a stand or being complicit with a regime prepared to silence anyone who dares to speak out.
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