Interior Ministry Penal Police Chief Mok Chito has brushed off claims made by his old adversary, disgraced former Phnom Penh police chief Heng Pov, that he was previously involved in kidnapping and extorting money from wealthy businessmen.
A disheveled Heng Pov made the allegations during his July 18 trial at Phnom Penh Municipal Court, where he was sentenced to 14 years behind bars for possession of counterfeit US currency, on top of the 25 years he is already serving for murder and illegal confinement. Contacted by telephone July 18 evening, Mok Chito said Heng Pov was a loose canon and a criminal, and that his claims to the court should not be taken seriously.
“Let him say whatever he wants. He attacks the government, he attacks everyone,” Mok Chito said. “Let public opinion assess what [the truth] is,” he said, adding that Heng Pov deserves his 39-year jail sentence.
“With what he did, he deserves it,” he said.
Heng Pov alleged in the courtroom that Mok Chito, who he described as his enemy, had planted $30,000 in counterfeit bills that were discovered in a police raid on his Kandal province home in July 2006. Heng Pov claimed Mok Chito bore a grudge against him because he had asked Interior Minister Sar Kheng to remove Mok Chito because of his role in kidnappings.
“I was the one who demanded the removal of Mok Chito because he did kidnapping to extort money from various oknhas,” Heng Pov claimed. “I had to carry out reform,” he told the court.
In reading his verdict, Judge Chey Sovann rejected Heng Pov’s allegation that the fake money had been planted in his house by Mok Chito.
“The denial is just an excuse to try to escape,” Chey Sovann said.
Heng Pov also claimed that his legal troubles stemmed from an argument with National Police Commissioner Hok Lundy. The spat erupted, Heng Pov alleged, when he refused Hok Lundy’s order to issue a Cambodian family book to a Vietnamese official so that he could live in Phnom Penh.
“I was forced to sign off on a family book for a Vietnamese colonel named Toeur,” Heng Pov claimed. “But I didn’t do it and that has caused the troubles.”
Hok Lundy could not be contacted July 18 or July 19. However, Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak said that Heng Pov’s claims, including those about Hok Lundy, were fabricated.
“When the fish is in the net, it tries to flop around to get out,” Khieu Sopheak said. “But in reality he cannot get out of it,” he added.
Heng Pov also told the court that Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, the two men jailed for gunning down Free Trade Union Leader Chea Vichea in January 2004, were innocent.
Heng Pov headed the police investigation into Chea Vichea’s Jan 22, 2004, execution-style killing. On Jan 29, 2004, he attended a news conference where Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun were hauled in front of reporters with black hoods over their heads. When the hoods were removed, the two suspects protested their innocence and claimed police had beaten them. The two men are currently serving 20-year jail sentences for the killing of Chea Vichea.
“Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun were not the shooters,” Heng Pov told the court, before questioning Hok Lundy’s leadership of the police.
“I don’t trust in the technical institutions under the control of Hok Lundy,” he said.