Phnom Penh Municipal Court has frozen the assets of two former municipal police officers charged in the attempt to kill a local newspaper publisher and his bodyguard in 1998, a judge said Monday.
Judge Ke Sakhorn said the court issued orders Sept 18 and 19 barring the sale of property belonging to the jailed former deputy chief of minor crime Ly Rasy, 36, and former economic police chief Heng Veng, 28, who is currently at large.
The assets freeze is to prevent suspects in the attempted assassination of Thong Uy Pang, publisher of Koh Santepheap newspaper, from selling their land before trial, the judge said.
Thong Uy Pang and his bodyguard Yim Chhoeun were both shot in the chest in June 1998 outside a Phnom Penh pagoda.
“We are freezing [property] to guarantee compensation prior to the hearing,” Ke Sakhorn said, adding that no trial date has been set.
Ke Sakhorn said he had learned that Ly Rasy’s family had already sold two houses in Tuol Kok district. However, the order was retroactive and can invalidate the sales, even if they took place before the court ordered the freeze.
Phnom Penh Municipal Police Chief Touch Naruth said that Heng Veng and former foreigner police chief Pheng Phai, also charged over the publisher’s shooting, were transferred to the Interior Ministry a long time ago and have since disappeared. “We don’t know where they went,” he said.
Among those implicated in the double shooting was former Phnom Penh police chief Heng Pov, who was discretely charged in 1998 for his involvement in the crime along with unnamed accomplices, Ke Sakhorn revealed Monday.
He maintained that the court could not act against Heng Pov for eight years because the now-disgraced police chief was simply too powerful.
Heng Pov has denied all the allegations against him.
Puth Theavy, a lawyer representing Thong Uy Pang and Yim Chhoeun, said that his clients would seek $300,000 in compensation.
Thong Uy Pang also said he expected the trial to occur soon. “They all ran away,” he said. “Only Ly Rasy is left.”
(Additional reporting by Douglas Gillison)