Malaysian Officials Let Off in Heng Pov Case

Malaysia’s Federal Court, the country’s highest judicial body, ruled Aug 14 that there was insufficient evidence to jail or fine senior officials over December’s sudden deportation of former Phnom Penh police chief Heng Pov, according to a lawyer on the case.

The decision ended an eight-month legal battle that saw the court issue the first-ever contempt citation to high-ranking Malaysian government officials, according to N Si­van­anthan, who had represented Heng Pov pro bono.

The Federal Court was thrown into chaos in December when Malaysian authorities announced that Heng Pov had been bundled off to Cambodia less than two hours before his final appeal to halt his deportation was to be heard, promp­t­ing accusations of bribery and misconduct, all quickly denied. The same court in February found that there was a prima facie case that Immigration Department Director-General Wahid Mohd Don, enforcement chief Ishak Haji Mohamed, and Hanafiah bin Zaka­ria, deputy head of prosecution in the Attorney-General’s Cham­bers, had lied to the court in sworn statements concerning the deportation proceedings.

However, after three hours of ar­gu­ments, Justice Richard Malan­jum said the three-judge panel had found that, as criminal penalties could be imposed, the court had to find proof “beyond a reasonable doubt,” a standard the court said had not been met, said Sivananthan.

“I can’t say that I’m surprised be­cause I do appreciate the burden that’s required,” he said.

Evidence introduced in court had consisted of inconsistencies in the respondents’ statements and mo­bile phone logs showing communications they had denied existed, said Sivananthan.

Officials at Malaysia’s Attorney-General’s Chambers and Immigra­tion Department in Putrajaya and at the Malaysian Embassy could not be contacted following the ruling.

Interior Ministry Spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sop­heak declined to comment on the decision but said Cam­bodian police had acted honorably. “We didn’t do anything contrary to Malay­sian law or Cambodian law,” he said.

SRP lawmaker Son Chhay said Aug 14 that the court had an­swered a narrow legal question but had not addressed the irregularity of Heng Pov’s deportation.

“We question why Heng Pov was deported back to Cambodia against his will,” Son Chhay said. “This is the question that the Malaysian government must explain.”


Related Stories

Latest News