Former Phnom Penh police chief Heng Pov stood trial at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday for allegedly attempting to kill a well-known Khmer-language newspaper publisher over a decade ago.
Heng Pov, who is serving a prison sentence of 74 years and 9 months for various other crimes, refused to answer any questions related to the charge of attempting to kill Koh Santepheap Daily publisher Thong Uy Pang and his bodyguard Yim Chhoeun on June 8, 1998.
But Heng Pov did once again demand that the court overturn its order to freeze his bank account, so that he could pay his attorney’s legal fees and his children’s school fees.
Former municipal minor crime deputy police chief Ly Rasy, who has also been handed multiple convictions, likewise refused to answer questions in court Tuesday, saying he has lost hope in the country’s justice system.
Former municipal foreigner police chief Pheng Phai told the court that he was not involved in the attempted killing of the two men.
In his testimony Tuesday, Yim Chhoeun identified the shooter as Heng Veng, a former anti-drug police officer who is still at large. Heng Veng worked under Heng Pov, who was deputy secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs at the time of the shooting.
Yim Chhoeun, who was shot in the shoulder during the attack, told the court that he had exchanged gunfire with Heng Veng, hitting the assailant in the arm.
Deputy Prosecutor Hing Bun-chea told the court that Heng Pov had planned the murder and at-tempted to absolve Heng Veng of any guilt by claiming that the officer had been wounded by an accidental gun discharge at his Takh-mau town home.
“Heng Veng was taken to Viet–nam immediately without primary treatment in Cambodia,” Hing Bunchea said. “It was clearly organized, Heng Pov was involved and had evacuated [Heng Veng] to be treated in Vietnam,” he said.
Three people went with Heng Veng to Vietnam on June 8, 1998—Heng Pov, Ly Rasy and Pheng Phai—according to an airline passenger list presented at the court.
Long Dara, court-appointed law-yer for Heng Pov, Ly Rasy and the absent Heng Veng, questioned the court as to why it had reinvestigated the case in 2006.
In the eight years after the 1998 attack on the publisher and his bodyguard, Heng Pov’s career skyrocketed through the ranks of the police force, and he become the chief of the Phnom Penh police and even a security advisor to Prime Minister Hun Sen.
“The case was already finished; in 2006, the case reopened. Isn’t this laughable? And there was no new evidence,” Long Dara said.
Heng Pov spectacularly fell from grace when he fled the country in 2006 following what he claims was a dispute with now-deceased Chief of National Police Hok Lundy.
Judge Chan Madina said the verdict is to be announced on April 7.