Heng Pov Gets 18 Years Over Assassination Plot

Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday sentenced former municipal police Chief Heng Pov to a further 18 years in prison after finding him guilty of conspiring in a 2005 attack that left an electrical utility worker paralyzed from the neck down.

The court also gave 18 years to former Interior Ministry police officer Oum Samkheng, 38, and former municipal minor crime deputy chief Hang Vuthy, who has not been seen since reportedly escaping from Prey Sar prison in 2006.

The three were ordered to pay a total of $800,000 in damages to Kim Daravuth, an Electricite du Cambodge branch manager in Meanchey district who in November 2005 was shot three times as he waited for his children outside their school.

Judge Chhay Kong acquitted former municipal minor crime police officer Prum So­phearith, 34, because of a lack of evidence.

Heng Pov was absent for the ruling. A clerk told the court he had been feeling unwell.

Since 2006, Heng Pov has also been convicted of murder, illegal confinement, illegal possession of weapons and possession of counterfeit currency. Tuesday’s decision brought his total prison sentence to almost 60 years.

In announcing the verdict, Chhay Kong accepted prosecution claims that the shooting had been over an electricity bill dispute at Heng Pov’s Takhmau town villa.

“Kim Daravuth was the EdC chief in Chak Angreu Leu [commune], and when he cut off the electricity to the house of Heng Pov, who was police chief and an adviser to the prime minister, [Heng Pov] became very angry and talked in scary words over the phone,” Chhay Kong said. “He threatened to shoot, which means to kill.”

Chhay Kong said two of the victim’s daughters had identified Hang Vuthy as the shooter and said Oum Samkheng had followed Kim Daravuth to the hospital. However, at the March 28 trial, the daughters testified that they had only seen the shooter from behind and that he wore a helmet.

“I believe this is justice,” Kim Daravuth’s wife Vong Nilina said, adding that the damage award would help pay her husband’s medical expenses, which were now very burdensome.

Attorney Pech Vicheka, who represented Kim Daravuth, said that if Heng Pov’s defense attorney, Kao Soupha, failed to appeal the ruling, damages would be payable within a month. But this was unlikely, he added.

“The procedures will be long and lengthy,” he said.

Kao Soupha said he planned to appeal. He added that the ruling had not been supported by evidence and was in fact retribution for Heng Pov’s prosecution of corrupt judges.

“This is revenge and it is not about evidence,” he said.

Heng Pov’s assets included the Takhmau villa and another Russei Keo district house, together valued at $1 million, a frozen bank account containing $1 million and $300,000 in cash confiscated by police, he said.

Kao Soupha said the appeals process may delay any payments by up to 10 years.

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