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Heng Pov's talk of high crimes 'negates claim to asylum'

Former Phnom Penh Police Chief Heng Pov's public allegations of crimes by high government

officials negate any claim he may have to political asylum, a government spokesman

said August 24.

"If Heng Pov says he knows about crimes within the government it means he is

an accomplice to these crimes," said Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith.

"So he has no right to seek political asylum."

One of Pov's key allegations pertains to the involvement of high-ranking government

officials in the March 30, 1997 grenade attack on unarmed demonstrators in Phnom

Penh.

Ron Abney, a US citizen injured during the grenade attack, has written to the FBI

requesting that they reopen their investigation into the affair in light of Pov's

revelations.

His call echoes that of opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who on August 16 said the government,

Ministry of Interior, and police needed to undertake a thorough investigation into

the attack using new information provided by Pov.

"Don't forget that Sam Rainsy was quick to accuse people in the government after

the grenade attack and now Heng Pov has released a statement claiming to reveal the

truth," Kanharith said. "The government is waiting to investigate who is

telling the correct version of events."

It is currently uncertain whether Pov will be granted political asylum overseas or

whether he will be returned to Cambodia by Singaporean authorities when his visa

expires on August 26.

"We are hard pressed to say whether Heng Pov will be arrested and sent back

to Cambodia," said Khieu Sopheak, Ministry of Interior spokesman. "The

case is no longer under our jurisdiction; it is for the police to work on resolving

this issue."

Earlier this week Pov's Australian-based lawyer, David Chen, said unless the government

dropped its "trumped up" charges against Pov, the fugitive former police

chief will be washing a lot more of the government's "dirty linen" in public.

Kanharith said that by making public statements, Pov is shooting himself in the foot.

"The more Heng Pov releases statements, the more he jeopardizes his claims for

political asylum," he said. "There is no country that will give Pov political

asylum."

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