Police in Malaysia on Tuesday arrested former Phnom Penh police chief Heng Pov for overstaying his 1-month entry pass, news reports and an attorney acting for Cambodia’s highest-profile fugitive said Thursday.
It was unclear whether Malaysian authorities would deport Heng Pov back to Cambodia, a move that the former police chief has warned would be his death sentence.
“We’ve been told that he was arrested in Malaysia and that the arrest took place at 8 o’clock in the morning the day before yesterday,” David Chen, Heng Pov’s Australian attorney, said by telephone, adding that his firm had retained a Malaysian lawyer for Heng Pov.
The arrest was the second time in fewer than six weeks that the 48-year-old has been detained over a simple immigration violation.
Authorities in Singapore arrested Heng Pov on Sept 1 for overstaying his entry pass and allowed him to cross into Malaysia via the Johor-Singapore causeway.
“We are liaising with the Malaysian authorities over what grounds he’s been arrested on, where he’s being held and what we can do,” Chen said. “In due course we’ll know what happened,” he added.
Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak refused to confirm or deny reports that Cambodian police had traveled to Malaysia on Wednesday following Heng Pov’s arrest.
“We don’t have any official information from our Malaysian counterparts,” Khieu Sopheak said.
Malaysian newspaper The Star reported Thursday that, acting on a tip, police had arrested Heng Pov at a luxury hotel where he had been staying for several days in Subang Jaya township outside the capital, Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysian authorities plan to charge Heng Pov under the country’s Immigration Act since his entry pass expired over the weekend, Malaysian newspaper New Straits Times reported Thursday.
“It remains unclear, however, whether he will be extradited to Cambodia…be sent to a third country or held here until his immigration charge is disposed of,” the newspaper wrote.
An official at the Malaysian Embassy declined to comment while Keo Vanthan, first deputy director of the Phnom Penh Interpol office, said he was abroad Thursday and declined to answer questions.