A man uses a video camera to record a showing of the film Who Killed Chea Vichea? at the Sam Rainsy Party headquarters in Phnom Penh yesterday. Photo by: Pha Lina
Monday, 02 May 2011 15:01 Meas Sokchea and Mary Kozlovski
LAWMAKERS from the Sam Rainsy Party plan to distribute copies of a controversial documentary about the murder of labour leader Chea Vichea, the Khmer-language version of which premiered yesterday at SRP headquarters in Phnom Penh.
SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua said at the screening, which drew a crowd of more than 100 people yesterday, that the party would distribute copies of the film to “whoever wants it” for a token 500 riel (US$0.12).
“We will make thousands of copies, people are asking me for copies… and we will make them because the people have to come out of this level of fear,” Mu Sochua said.
The 2009 documentary Who Killed Chea Vichea?, by American director Bradley Cox, investigates the 2004 murder of former Free Trade Union leader Chea Vichea. It examines charges against two men initially accused of the crime and suggests that government officials may have helped to plan the murder.
Previous attempts to show the film publicly have been thwarted, with screens torn down after government officials labelled the film an “illegal import”.
Mu Sochua said the government had not interfered with yesterday’s screening because the SRP headquarters is private property.
“I think [the government] calculated very clearly that it would not be to their advantage to stop it,” she said.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan declined to comment on the film screening.
SRP president Sam Rainsy spoke at the event via videoconference from Paris, saying that government officials and factory owners wanted workers to “forget” yesterday’s holiday, International Labour Day.
Rainsy claims legal victory
Sam Rainsy also claimed yesterday that he had won an appeal in the French Supreme Court to overturn a 2008 ruling that found he had defamed Foreign Minister Hor Namhong.
In the original ruling, Sam Rainsy was handed a symbolic fine of one euro by a French civil court for alleging in his autobiography that Hor Namhong had headed the Boeung Trabek prison camp under the Khmer Rouge.
“I confirm that Mr Hor Namhong finally and definitively lost his defamation lawsuit against me before the French tribunal,” Sam Rainsy said.
Court officials in France could not be reached to verify the judgment. Phay Siphan, meanwhile, declined to comment on the case.
“Cambodia is completely different from France. I understand the motivations are completely different and the law is completely different,” he said.
Hor Namhong could not be reached for comment.
Last week, a Cambodian criminal court found Sam Rainsy guilty of defamation over the same allegation and sentenced him to two years in jail. He faces a combined 14 years in prison should he return to Cambodia. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY DAVID BOYLE
Meas Narin, 33, garment factory worker
“For me, it is important [to screen the film]. “Chea Vichea tried his best to help people. Sometimes factory bosses mistreat the workers but Chea Vichea helped the workers. “It is important for the film to show who may have killed him.”
Pheng Chou, 39, a union president
“I felt bad when Chea Vichea was killed. “Chea Vichea taught me that May 1 is an interesting day for the workers. He, together with Sam Rainsy, always said this is an important day for workers.
“In Cambodia, people can use the law to mistreat workers, to mistreat victims, to abuse the land and abuse workers”
Chan Rath, 30, accountant
“I came to watch the film because I wanted to know the truth. “Before I was afraid, I didn’t want to come here. After watching this film, I think that maybe there are high-ranking officials involved in Chea Vichea’s murder.
“In our country, it is difficult to find justice. If you have money, you can find justice.”