THE Court of Appeal on Thursday upheld the attempted murder conviction of former Phnom Penh municipal police chief Heng Pov in a case concerning an attack on a utility worker, though judges denied a request by the victim’s wife to increase a compensation award.
In 2008, Heng Pov was found guilty of attempted premeditated murder and sentenced to 18 years in prison for an attack that left Kim Daravuth, an employee of state-owned Electricite du Cambodge, paralysed.
The attack apparently stemmed from a dispute over whether Heng Pov had paid a power bill for his home in Kandal province’s Takhmao town.
When Kim Daravuth shut off power to the home after determining that the bill had not been paid, prosecutors said in 2008, Heng Pov ordered him killed.
Two other men were convicted of carrying out the attack and given identical prison sentences, and all three were ordered to pay Kim Daravuth a combined US$800,000 in compensation.
Heng Pov professed his innocence during a hearing on April 30.
“I did not order, facilitate or execute the plan to kill him,” he said. “I never knew Kim Daravuth.”
At the same hearing, Vong Nilina, Kim Daravuth’s wife, demanded that the compensation award be increased to US$1.5 million, telling judges that her husband had required “expensive” medical treatment abroad.
In reading out the court’s ruling on Thursday, however, Judge Chuon Sunleng noted that both the sentence and compensation award “remain the same”.
Vong Nilina expressed her frustration with the ruling on Thursday, saying that Heng Pov deserved a harsher prison sentence.
“I want Heng Pov to get life imprisonment, and the compensation that the court ordered is too little because my husband’s treatment cost a lot,” she said.
Kao Soupha, Heng Pov’s lawyer, also blasted the ruling. “The decision is unjust and is not based on proof or witnesses saying that Heng Pov ordered the men to kill Kim Daravuth,” he said.
Heng Pov, who did not appear in court on Thursday, was arrested in 2006 and has since been sentenced to more than 90 years in prison on a raft of charges, including extortion, kidnapping and murder.
Last month, he released a book titled Strategy to Extinguish War in Cambodia that offers an analysis of recent Cambodian history and politics, and describes Prime Minister Hun Sen as a skilled leader, a move some observers said may have been part of an attempt to secure a pardon.