JAILED former top cop Heng Pov faced trial again in Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday on a charge of illegal detention that dates back to 2003.
The notorious former Phnom Penh police chief was arrested in 2006 and sentenced to more than 90 years in prison after being found guilty of a litany of charges, including extortion, kidnapping and murder.
He was tried yesterday on the illegal detention charge in connection with a complaint lodged by Chan Seak, a local businessman who Heng Pov accused of robbery in 2003.
According to a letter of complaint read out to the court, Chan Seak claims he was detained for 48 hours following his arrest before an investigating judge released him due to a lack of evidence.
The letter further alleges that Heng Pov ordered Tuol Kork district police to re-arrest Chan Seak, and that he was illegally held from April to July 2003.
Heng Pov’s lawyer, Kao Soupha, said the case should be thrown out, since the relevant charge was not laid against his client until 2007, when he was already behind bars.
“It is unreasonable for the court to charge my client in 2007. They should have charged him in 2003,” he told the court. “It should have been brave and not just waited until he was imprisoned.”
He said the case should also be dropped for a lack of evidence, as Chan Seak had disappeared since the complaint was filed and was absent again during yesterday’s hearing.
According to a note submitted to the court by investigating judges, Heng Pov, who was also absent, said he would not answer any questions related to the charge until the courts freed up more than US$1 million of personal assets confiscated following his arrest.
“It seems meaningless for me to answer the charges because the court has never provided justice to me,” the note quoted Heng Pov as saying.
Deputy court prosecutor Chet Khemara called the request from Kao Soupha “unreasonable”, and said there was plenty of evidence to convict Heng Pov.
If found guilty, Heng Pov faces an additional 10 years in jail.
Presiding Judge Duch Kimsorn said no date had been scheduled for the verdict.
In April this year, the former police chief released a book from prison that was effusive in its praise of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Observers speculated that the book might have been an attempt to secure a pardon.