Two weeks after the Phnom Penh Municipal Court began a retrial into the 2006 jailbreak of disgraced former police officer Hang Vuthy, it threw the case out Thursday, ruling that the defendant’s appeal against the original verdict had been filed too late.
“The court decides to reject the complaint lodged by Mr. Hang Vuthy on March 20, 2014, because the complaint did not arrive inside the time period allowed by law,” Judge Leang Sambath announced to the court.
The court began a retrial into the case of Mr. Vuthy on June 24.
Contacted by telephone Thursday, Judge Samnath refused to explain why the case had been reopened although the complaint had come late. “The law allows only 15 days after the defendant receives the verdict,” he said, adding that Mr. Vuthy could could take any further complaints to the Appeal Court.
Mr. Vuthy claims that Lieutenant General Mok Chito—who was chief of the Interior Ministry’s penal police in 2006—orchestrated the jailbreak, and that he was tied up and forced out of the prison at knifepoint as 11 others escaped.
He says that Lt. Gen. Chito, now the director of the ministry’s central judicial department, wanted to kill him or force certain confessions out of him.
At the time of the prison escape, Mr. Vuthy had been serving a 45-year sentence for his role in the 2003 assassination of a municipal court judge. He has since had 15 years added for his role in a plot to assassinate National Military Police Commander Sao Sokha.
Mr. Vuthy has been labeled the right-hand man of former Phnom Penh police chief Heng Pov, who is serving a 98-year sentence for his role in the plot to kill General Sokha and a slew of other high-profile crimes that he says were fabricated by the late National Police Commissioner Hok Lun dy, who died in a helicopter crash in 2008.
Outside the courthouse Thursday, Mr. Vuthy disputed the claim that he was close to Mr. Pov and reiterated that he was merely collateral damage in a larger dispute between powerful police officials.
“Mok Chito wanted me to accuse Heng Pov, because the two fought since they were captains and majors, because Heng Pov would arrest suspects and then Mok Chito would release them for money,” he said.
Contacted by telephone, Lt. Gen. Chito said that investigations into the cases for which Mr. Vuthy was imprisoned were carried out by military police and not police, meaning that he could not have played a role in implicating Mr. Vuthy.
“I think that anyone who did [commit Mr. Vuthy’s and Mr. Pov’s crimes] would respond like this,” Lt. Gen. Chito said. “I will not file lawsuits against them because they are in prison already.”