Ex-Top Cop Says He Was Forced to Flee Prison

Hang Vuthy, the one-time right-hand man of jailed former Phnom Penh police chief Heng Pov, told the municipal court Wednesday that he was forced to escape from Prey Sar prison in 2007, as his retrial over the jailbreak got underway.

In June 2006, Mr. Vuthy—who is serving a 45-year sentence for gunning down a Phnom Penh court judge in broad daylight—broke out of Prey Sar with 11 other inmates and went into hiding until 2012, when he turned himself into authorities and claimed that he had escaped under duress.

Hang Vuthy is escorted into the Phnom Penh Municipal Court         on Wednesday ahead of his retrial over a 2007 prison escape. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Hang Vuthy is escorted into the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday ahead of his retrial over a 2007 prison escape. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

While on the run, Mr. Vuthy was sentenced in absentia to two years for the breakout—a decision he lodged a complaint against last year, leading to the retrial.

In court Wednesday, he said that Lieutenant General Mok Chito, who was Interior Ministry’s penal police chief in 2007, had orchestrated the jailbreak in order to murder him amid a purge of the police ranks and a spate of extrajudicial killings, of which Mr. Vuthy had knowledge.

“I was involved in three or four cases in which they accused me,” Mr. Vuthy told the court. “I did nothing in all cases. Mr. Mok Chito organized the [jailbreak] because he wanted to kill me to hide evidence.”

Mr. Vuthy also gave his account of the 2006 prison break, which he is accused of leading, claiming that he was actually abducted by other inmates who bound his hands together and covered his mouth while cutting through steel window bars on the second floor.

With the prison’s electricity shut off, he said, an inmate named Som Dina held a large knife to this throat and forced him to flee using a rope made of sheets and mosquito nets.

Outside the prison compound, a car, two motorbikes and a number of men with AK-47s had been waiting to capture the group, Mr. Vuthy added, but he managed to run into a forested area.

“When he could not kill me, Mr. Mok Chito killed Som Dina to hide the evidence [of the plot],” he said, claiming that Lt. Gen. Chito had wanted to use him to build a case against Heng Pov, who is serving a 98-year sentence for a slew of violent crimes.

Lt. Gen Chito, now deputy commissioner of the National Police, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Judge Leang Samnath said a verdict in Mr. Vuthy’s jailbreak case would be delivered next month on July 9.

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