Phnom Penh Municipal Court has summoned the wife of former Phnom Penh police chief Heng Pov as police suspect her of circulating counterfeit US currency, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry said Sunday.
A Malaysian attorney representing Heng Pov alleged Sunday the summons was an attempt to blackmail the ex-police chief’s family into dropping a legal action against Malaysian government officials over Heng Pov’s controversial Dec 21 deportation from that country.
Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak denied any links between the summons for Ngin Sotheavy, and court proceedings now underway in Kuala Lumpur against the officials who deported Heng Pov.
“This is a new case,” Khieu Sopheak said, adding the case was only one of several investigations into Heng Pov and his associates.
Cambodian officials are not interested in the Malaysian contempt proceedings, he said. “We don’t care about that,” he added.
During a July 31 police raid on Heng Pov’s Takhmau town villa in Kandal province, police claimed they had discovered over $300,000, $30,000 of which was fake.
Following Heng Pov’s deportation, authorities began an investigation of the counterfeit money and Ngin Sotheavy—who is currently in Singapore—is now a suspect along with Heng Pov, Khieu Sopheak said.
Ngin Sotheavy should return to Cambodia “to clear herself,” he added.
Heng Pov’s Malaysian attorney N Sivananthan said by telephone from Kuala Lumpur that the allegations are “certainly blackmail.”
“Clearly they’ve tried all they can to persuade Heng Pov [to drop the case] and now they’re starting on his wife,” he said.
On Feb 2, Malaysia’s highest judicial body, the Federal Court, granted Heng Pov’s lawyers, who are being retained by Ngin Sotheavy, leave to begin contempt of court proceedings against three high-ranking Malaysian government officials over alleged irregularities in Heng Pov’s deportation.
In an interview Saturday, N Sivananthan said the Heng Pov family had received threats that Ngin Sotheavy would be prosecuted if she persisted with the Malaysian legal action.
N Sivananthan also said that, during a prison visit Friday, Heng Pov told relatives that Cambodian government officials had pressed him to deny publicly that he had authorized his attorneys to act against the three Malaysian officials. He refused to do so, N Sivananthan said.
Heng Pov is currently serving an 18-year sentence for the 2003 murder of Municipal Court Judge Sok Sethamony.
Mong Kim Heng, director of the CC1 prison, confirmed that his most famous inmate had been visited by his family Friday and by both his court-appointed attorney Nou Chantha and Investigating Judge Sao Meach last month.
Nou Chantha, who has denied representing Heng Pov despite being identified by Municipal Court Director Chiv Keng as his defense counsel, said Sunday he was too busy to talk to a reporter. Chiv Keng also declined to speak to a reporter.