Heng Pov, facing murder and extortion charges, will not attend his own trial over inability to pay legal fees, attorney says.
Disgraced former police chief Heng Pov shown here in a file photo.
THE disgraced and imprisoned former Phnom Penh police chief Heng Pov will not attend his own trial, scheduled for March 10 at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, citing an inability to pay his defence fees, his attorney said.
Heng Pov's defence lawyer, Kao Soupha, said his client had written a letter to the court stating that he would not appear until funds frozen by the state were released back to him, allowing him to pay his lawyer's fees, three of his daughters' study fees and medical treatments.
Heng Pov, who used to be an adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen, wrote the PM a letter in early February requesting that Hun Sen intervene to release around US$940,000 held in five accounts at Canadia Bank.
"The money in his account is legal, but the court has barred him from withdrawing it," Kao Soupha said Thursday. "We are waiting to see whether the intervention persuades the prime minister to allow the withdrawal or not."
Kao Soupha, who has defended Heng Pov since last year, said he had not been paid for his services, adding that three of Heng Pov's daughters had been forced to suspend their studies.
"We are requesting to withdraw just some of the money, not all of it," Kao Soupha said.
The judge hearing the case at the Municipal Court, Iv Kimsry, told the Post Thursday that he had not heard of Heng Pov's request to be absent, adding that "it is his right to do so" before hanging up the phone.
The former police boss, much feared during his time in power, was arrested in 2006 and is currently serving a 58-year prison sentence for a raft of murder, kidnapping and extortion convictions.