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Influential businessman’s trial shifts venues

A well-connected Battambang businessman alleged to have assaulted a student and shot into the air at a restaurant to threaten another man was transferred to the Phnom Penh court system on Tuesday amid fears he had too much sway over provincial judiciary officials, police said yesterday.

Huy Heng, 36, was arrested on May 31 by the Ministry of Interior’s penal police, and charged with illegal weapons use and causing injury in a pair of cases that took place months earlier but which local police refused to investigate. On June 4, he was transferred to Prey Sar prison and his case moved to Phnom Penh Municipal Court, said Cheth Vanny, deputy Battambang provincial police chief.

“The reason why we decided to transfer him to jail in Phnom Penh’s prison and have transferred his case from the Battambang court to Phnom Penh for action is because he is a rich man and knows many high-ranking-officials and other influential people in the province. We are afraid that he would make trouble for the provincial investigative judge in performing his duty in investigating his case,” he added.

Though Vanny declined to provide more detail, a police officer speaking on condition of anonymity said there was little doubt Heng had undue pull.

The complaints, said the source, had been filed in February and March, but no action was taken until they were refiled at the Interior Ministry in May.

“The reason why the district and provincial police did not take action on their complaints was because he knows many high-ranking police and military police officials in the province,” the officer said.

In February Heng is believed to have fired his pistol a dozen times to frighten a cleaner who shouted at him for urinating outside a nightclub, and in March he allegedly beat up a student whose parking had blocked Heng’s car.

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