The trial of former municipal police chief Heng Pov for unsuccessfully conspiring to kill national military police commander Sao Sokha in 2003 began Tuesday in Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
A lawyer-less Heng Pov, who is serving more than 50 years in pris-on for a rash of previous convictions, rejected a court-appointed lawyer and declined to answer any questions during the trial.
Kao Soupha, Heng Pov’s former lawyer, is refusing to represent his client until he is paid $20,000 in back-fees owed from previous cases. Heng Pov wrote to Prime Minister Hun Sen in February re-questing access to his bank ac-count, which was frozen by the court in July 2006.
“You don’t defend yourself—it is your right. The court has already prepared to appoint [lawyer] Nou Chantha free of charge,” Judge Iv Kimsry told Heng Pov after he refused the attorney.
“I didn’t demand the court to appoint a lawyer,” Heng Pov re-sponded. “I found Kao Soupha, and in the end, the court blocked me from paying him,” he said.
Standing trial alongside Heng Pov Tuesday were former muni-cipal minor crime deputy police chief Ly Rasy, former Phnom Penh military police officer Hang Vutha, former Interior Ministry penal police officer Oum Sam-kheng and municipal minor crimes police officer Prum Sophearith.
Ly Rasy was also charged with conspiring to kill Sao Sokha, whereas Hang Vutha, Oum Samkheng and Prum Sophearith were each charged with attempted pre-meditated killing. All four men pleaded innocent to the charges.
Former municipal police officer Hang Vuthy, who hasn’t been seen since he broke out of Prey Sar pris-on in 2006, was tried in absentia Tuesday for attempted murder.
After Heng Pov declined to be represented by a lawyer, Iv Kimsry proceeded with the case by reading testimonies allegedly made in 2006 by Ly Rasy, Hang Vutha, Oum Samkheng and Prum So-phearith, in which they admitted their culpability in the crime and named Heng Pov the ringleader.
Deputy Prosecutor Ek Cheng Huot pointed out during the trial that he didn’t have any evidence supporting the charges except for the testimonies and an anonymous letter that was later submitted by Sao Sokha to the court implicating the five accused men in a plot to take his life.
At the end of the trial Tuesday, Iv Kimsry said that the court would announce its verdict on Thursday.