The Supreme Court yesterday upheld the murder convictions of former Phnom Penh Municipal Police chief Heng Pov and three others in the case of the 2003 killing of Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge Sok Sethamoni.
Defendants Pov, Ly Rasy, Hang Vutha and Prum Sophearith have been convicted on a raft of charges – including multiple high-profile murders – since their arrests in 2006, but have consistently blamed the late, disgraced ex-National Police chief Hok Lundy and former head of penal police at the Ministry of Interior Mok Chito for framing them.
Pov took the same tack yesterday, saying that Lundy and Chito – who currently serves as the chief of the Interior Ministry’s Central Justice Department – had framed him for his refusal to sign fraudulent titles granting several homes to Vietnamese nationals.
He also took issue with the fact that he had been barred from his own sentencing hearing because he had arrived late.
“It is damn unjust for me, and I will appeal to the Ministry of Justice and the National Assembly, because I did not commit this as accused,” he added.
Pov and the others were accused of shooting judge Sethamoni while his car was stopped at a traffic light. Days after the incident, a military police investigation yielded the arrests of three other men, but they were later released, and authorities picked up Pov and the others instead. Pov was sentenced to 18 years in prison, and the rest were given 16.
Family members of the accused also blasted the court’s decision, with Chea Kim Hoy, Rasy’s mother, saying her son had been convicted solely based on accusations contained in an unsigned letter.
Sun Sophorn, sister of former co-defendant Hang Vuthy (not to be confused with defendant Hang Vutha), who did not appeal his sentence, criticised the court’s decision not to call her brother to testify as pressure exerted on him by Chito not to appeal.
“All of these [things] were ordered by Mok Chito, so no one dares to make a decision . . . Hang Vuthy is the most crucial witness in the case of Heng Pov,” she said.
Chito has always denied allegations of involvement.