The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday postponed until March the trial of former municipal police chief Heng Pov for attempted murder at the request of the defendant and his newly appointed lawyer.
Heng Pov’s trial for the alleged 2005 attempt on the life of former Electricite du Cambodge employee Kim Daravuth is the fifth to be brought against the former police chief since his precipitous fall from grace in 2006.
Once chief of the EdC branch office in Meanchey district’s Chak Angre Krom commune, Kim Daravuth has been confined to a wheelchair since being shot three times in the neck as he waited outside his children’s school.
The attack reportedly concerned an electricity bill dispute with Heng Pov.
In the courtroom Monday morning, Heng Pov, who is currently serving 39 years for murder, illegal confinement and possession of counterfeit currency, approached Kim Daravuth to deny his guilt.
He also rose with defense attorney Kao Soupha to ask for an adjournment, saying that Kao Soupha had only taken up the case last Wednesday and needed time to study it.
Deputy Prosecutor Hing Bunchea also asked for the delay, citing the need to protect the rights of the accused.
Three other men also stand accused of conspiring to kill Kim Daravuth: former Interior Ministry police officer Oum Samkheng, 36; former Phnom Penh minor crime police officer Prum Sophearith, 36; and Hang Vuthy, the fugitive former Phnom Penh criminal section deputy police chief, who remains at large after reportedly escaping from Prey Sar prison in June 2006.
Kim Daravuth’s wife Vong Nilina pleaded with the court to proceed, saying the family had waited long enough.
“Please let the court understand that it has been very painful,” she said.
Presiding Judge Chhay Kong said he was delaying trial until an unspecified date in March in light of Kao Soupha’s recent appointment and the absence of Long Dara, defense lawyer for Oum Samkheng.
“This is for justice, both for the victim and the charged persons,” he told the court.
Long Dara said Monday he had not appeared at court for medical reasons.
“I have a headache,” he said Monday evening. “My head hurts.”
As he approached the dock Monday, Heng Pov stooped toward Kim Daravuth and said he was not to blame.
“I didn’t shoot. Believe me,” he told the wheelchair-bound man.
Heng Pov had previously been represented by attorney Nou Chantha, however both Nou Chantha and Kao Soupha said Monday they did not know why Heng Pov had discharged the court-appointed lawyer.
“It is his right,” Nou Chantha said before declining to answer further questions.
(Additional reporting by Douglas Gillison)