Refusing To Participate, Former Police Chief Stands Trial Again

Disgraced former Phnom Penh police chief Heng Pov refused to answer any questions Friday as Phnom Penh Municipal Court tried him for the 2005 attempted murder of an electric utility worker.

Currently serving more than 40 years for murder, illegal confinement, illegal possession of weapons and possession of counterfeit currency, Heng Pov asked the court to unfreeze a personal bank account and said that he did not accept the authority of the presiding judge, Chhay Kong.

After announcing criminal char­ges against a fugitive Heng Pov in July 2006, authorities froze his Canadia Bank account, which reportedly contained $1 million.

Heng Pov’s defense attorney Kao Soupha appeared at the courthouse Friday but refused to enter the courtroom, which, he said later, was to protest the Appeal Court’s failure to respond to his motion Wednesday to disqualify Chhay Kong, who has previously convicted Heng Pov of the illicit possession of weapons.

At trial Friday, a court clerk read aloud a Thursday decision from the Appeal Court’s Deputy President Chuon Sunleng who said the motion to disqualify Chhay Kong had been denied due to a lack of grounds.

“I don’t trust you….a judge without justice. I ask not to attend this trial,” Heng Pov said in court.

Kim Daravuth, a branch manager for Electricite du Cambodge in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district, was left quadriplegic after being shot in the neck in November 2005 as he waited outside his children’s school in Daun Penh district. The attempt on his life was allegedly due to a billing dispute with Heng Pov.

Heng Pov remained silent for the rest of proceedings as the court heard testimony that he had colluded in the failed murder attempt with former Interior Ministry police officer Oum Samkheng and the escaped police officer Hang Vuthy who reportedly broke out of Prey Sar prison in 2006 and whom authorities said at the time they were unable to locate.

In a previous court appearance in January, Heng Pov assured Kim Daravuth he was not behind the shooting.

Kim Daravuth told the court Friday how the attack had left him in misery.

“I want justice before I die,” he said. “I am a human plant. I am in greater difficulty than the dead…. I am not capable of feeding my family. I am totally ruined.” He said he was seeking $2 million in compensation.

Kim Daravuth told the court that a bodyguard had told him that the billing dispute, which began about two months before the shooting, had made Heng Pov very angry.

The amount in question was $3,750, a clerk told the court.

Oum Samkheng told the court that he had been implicated in the affair because Heng Pov’s arch ne­mesis, Interior Ministry Penal Police Chief Mok Chito, held a grudge against him as he had witnessed a killing by Mok Chito in 1995.

Kim Daravuth’s lawyer, Pech Vichecka, told the court that family mem­bers of the former EdC official had seen Oum Samkheng at the scene of the shooting and that he had followed the ambulance to the hospital.

Contacted later on Friday, Mok Chito denied Oum Samkheng’s allegations, saying he had always acted lawfully.

Kao Soupha said Friday the Justice Ministry had not responded to a March 12 request to unfreeze his client’s bank account to allow him to pay his legal fees and his children’s university tuition.

Chhay Kong said Friday that a verdict in the trial would be handed down at an unspecified date.

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