Heng Pov Is Deported To Malaysia

Fugitive former Phnom Penh Police Chief Heng Pov was arrested in a Singaporean hotel Friday and deported to Malaysia after overstaying his entry pass, according to officials and news reports.

“He was arrested at two o’clock in the morning Friday then deported,” Keo Vanthan, first deputy director of Interpol in Phnom Penh, said Sunday. “Now we are waiting for the cooperation from the member countries of Interpol, especially Malaysia.”

Keo Vanthan said Singaporean immigration authorities had informed him by telephone of the arrest but it is not yet “official” because he had not yet been provided written confirmation. Singaporean immigration officials confirmed the news in media reports Friday. Keo Vanthan said he hopes to learn as early as today whether Malaysia plans to detain Heng Pov.

Officials at the Malaysian and Singaporean embassies in Phnom Penh could not be reached Sunday. David Chen, an Australian attorney acting for Heng Pov, did not respond to e-mailed requests for comment.

Cambodian authorities on July 31 announced a warrant for Heng Pov’s arrest in connection with the 2003 assassination of Municipal Court Judge Sok Sethamony and three other attempted assassinations. Heng Pov responded with a detailed list of allegations of his own, tying high-ranking government officials to a wide variety of misdeeds, ranging from drug dealing to murder.

A high-ranking Cambodian National Police official said Aug 22 that the Criminal Investigation Department in Singapore had promised to deport Heng Pov to Cambodia after his one-month “social visit pass” expired Aug 26.

But according to Keo Vanthan, the Aug 4 Interpol “red notice” issued for Heng Pov only acts as an arrest warrant in countries that have extradition treaties with Cambodia. Neither Singapore nor Malaysia have such agreements with Cambodia, he said.

Interior Ministry Penal Police Chief Mok Chito declined comment on Sunday, while National Police Commissioner Hok Lundy and Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak could not be reached for comment. However, Khieu Sopheak was quoted by Khmer-language newspaper Rasmei Kampuchea as saying that Malaysia had pledged to arrest and deport Heng Pov to Cambodia.

Heng Pov was deported to Malaysia as he stopped there before arriving in Singapore on July 26, Keo Vanthan said. He also said Heng Pov could ultimately be deported to Cambodia on a similar immigration matter.

Sam Rainsy, leader of the party that bears his name, said he met with a US Federal Bureau of Investigation official in the US last month and discussed the Heng Pov case. The meeting took place during a two-week tour of the US by Sam Rainsy that ended Thursday.

Sam Rainsy said he talked with the FBI official about Heng Pov’s claims that top government officials masterminded the March 1997 grenade attack on a peaceful demonstration in front of the National Assembly. The results of an FBI investigation of the attack have not been fully publicized. Sam Rainsy called last month for the Cambodian government’s investigation to also be revived.

Heng Pov may not be blameless, but he likely possesses valuable information which would be lost should he be returned to Cambodia, Sam Rainsy said.

“He will be silenced one way or another,” he said. “We will have lost a witness,” he added, before comparing Heng Pov to former Khmer Rouge commander Ta Mok, who died in July.

“No one likes Ta Mok but everyone regretted his death at a time when the tribunal for Khmer Rouge leaders has just begun,” he said.

However, Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, said Heng Pov could expect a fair trial if he returns to Cambodia.

Sok Sam Oeun also said Heng Pov should not fear for his life as long as he remains in custody.

“If he is in prison, I think that he will be safe. But if he escapes, no one can assure his safety,” Sok Sam Oeun said.

          (Additional reporting by Kim Chan)





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