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Heng Pov trial postponed

Court says former police head will face murder charge early in the new year

THE trial of jailed former Phnom Penh police chief Heng Pov has been postponed until early 2009 because one of the accused, Heng Pov's former colleague Hang Vutha, has no lawyer, municipal judges said Monday.

The six are to stand trial for their alleged involvement in an assassination attempt on Military Police Chief Sao Sokha in December 2003.

In a court hearing Monday, Heng Pov, who is already serving a 58-year sentence for murder, counterfeiting and extortion, pleaded with judges to unfreeze his assets, including a house in Chruoy Changvar and nearly US$1 million, confiscated by authorities after his arrest in 2006.

"My children left school because my money was confiscated. I cannot withdraw money for my children but I would like to ask to be able to withdraw money for a lawyer's services," he told the judge.

"My children have made no mistakes, yet they had to quit their studies because my money was frozen."

Lawyer Kao Soupha said his client should be given access to his funds since he was acquitted of the kidnapping charges under which they were frozen in the first place.

"Heng Pov requested that he be able to withdraw money, but this is not being permitted. The court froze Heng Pov's money following orders from the Ministry of Interior," he said.

Kao Soupha confirmed that he is still defending his client and that he will not abandon Heng Pov.

"I will not abandon him.  I want the court to be just," he said.

The former municipal police chief, who was arrested in Malaysia in 2006  after a six-month bid for political asylum, blames late National Police Commissioner Hok Lundy for the crimes he has been charged with and convicted of so far.

Heng Pov faces an additional 30 years in prison if convicted of conspiracy murder of Sao Sokha and Koh Santepheap publisher Thong Uy Pang.

Kao Soupha requested that the court permit the plaintiffs to use money in the bank for legal services and to aid the accused's children.



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