Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced former Phnom Penh police chief Heng Pov and his wife to 14 and 13 years in prison respectively on July 18 for possession of $30,000 of counterfeit US currency.
Presiding Judge Chey Sovann told the court that Heng Pov’s sentence would begin at the end of the 25 years he is already serving in Prey Sar prison for murder and illegal confinement.
His wife Ngin Sotheavy’s sentence will begin from the day of her arrest, Chey Sovann added.
Ngin Sotheavy is currently residing in Finland, having received political asylum in May.
The counterfeit $30,000 was found during a July 31, 2006 raid on Heng Pov’s villa in Kandal province’s Takhmau town, Deputy Prosecutor Sok Kalyan told the court.
“According to the Interior Ministry’s examination results, the 300 notes of $100 each were faked,” he said. “This is enough evidence,” he added.
Looking tired and unshaven, Heng Pov initially refused to answer questions, declaring that the court had already made its decision.
“I request not to answer and just be punished,” Heng Pov told the court. “Even though I have evidence [to support my innocence], I will not be released.”
Heng Pov, dressed in a tattered prison uniform, also complained about the conditions in Prey Sar, claiming that he has not been able to leave his cell since his arrest in January and has been denied visitors.
“All prisoners across the whole country, their relatives can visit, but my family was not allowed to visit,” he said, adding that his single leg had gone numb from months of inactivity.
Contacted by telephone, Prey Sar Director Mong Kim Heng declined to comment on Heng Pov, referring all questions to the Interior Ministry’s Prison Secretariat.
Heng Kak, director of the secretariat, could not be reached for comment.
Sok Kalyan and Chey Sovann eventually persuaded Heng Pov to discuss his case, promising him a fair and transparent trial.
Heng Pov responded that he did not recognize the validity of the search that turned up the fake money because it was led by Mok Chito, his long-time enemy and chief of the Interior Ministry’s penal police department, whom he accused of planting the notes.
“Mok Chito is my enemy,” Heng Pov told the court, adding that a grudge had erupted between the two men because he had asked Interior Minister Sar Kheng to remove Mok Chito from his position.
Contacted by telephone, Mok Chito said that Heng Pov was guilty as charged.
“He is a bad person, he used to do this [kind of thing],” Mok Chito said, adding that Kandal Chief Prosecutor Hout Vuthy had led the search of Heng Pov’s villa.
After both sides had presented their cases, Chey Sovann retired for 10 minutes before returning to read a written judgment finding the couple guilty and announcing the hefty prison sentence.