Absent Heng Pov Tried on Confinement Charges

Former Phnom Penh police chief Heng Pov was tried in absentia at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday on a charge that he illegally detained a robbery suspect in 2003.

Already serving a prison term stretching to 93.5 years for a host of convictions including kidnapping and murder from his time in the municipal police commissariat, Mr Pov was absent from yesterday’s proceedings because he did not believe the court would try him fairly, his lawyer said.

Yesterday’s trial related to an incident in April 2003, when Mr Pov allegedly ordered Tuol Kok district police to detain suspected robber Chan Seap, 35, after he had already been questioned and released by Phnom Penh Municipal Court because of a lack of evidence, deputy prosecutor Chet Khemara told the court yesterday.

“Heng Pov went against the jurisdiction of the court,” Mr Khemara said. “Heng Pov had power at that time and all of the district police chiefs in the capital were afraid of his power.”

Presiding Judge Duch Kimsan said that Mr Seap had been illegally confined at the Tuol Kok district police station for two months, adding that Mr Pov had broken the law by detaining a man without the authorization of the court.

With Mr Pov absent yesterday, the court clerk read a transcript from his prior interview with the investigating judge as evidence. “I do not answer questions on this case…. Even when I answer, the court never gives me justice,” the clerk read.

If found guilty of the crime of illegal confinement, Mr Pov will face a further 10 years in jail.

Kao Soupha, Mr Pov’s lawyer, told the court that his client wanted the court to find him guilty. “My client requests that the court please punish him and not acquit him because he wants to see the court system uphold justice,” he said.

Judge Kimsan postponed handing down a verdict in the case yesterday, saying he would announce his decision soon.


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