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Heng Pov faces time on charges in '98 plot

Heng Pov faces time on charges in '98 plot

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Ex-top cop chides presiding judge over access to funds, while defence says case reopened with no further investigations.

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HENG CHIVOAN

Disgraced ex-police chief Heng Pov is escorted into the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday morning.  

THE Phnom Penh Municipal Court will announce its verdict in the murder  trial implicating former city police chief Heng Pov on April 7, it said Tuesday following a five-hour court hearing.

Heng Pov, who is already serving 74 years in prison for a variety of murder, extortion and kidnapping convictions, has been charged - along with three other men - with the attempted murder of Koh Santepheap newspaper editor Thong Uy Pang in June 1998.

Three of the four accused were present for the hearing, the opening of which saw Heng Pov argue with Chief Presiding Judge Chan Madina over his legal representation and access to nearly $1 million of funds held in Canadia Bank accounts bearing his name.

Refusing a court-appointed lawyer, Heng Pov accused the judge of denying him his legal rights and again criticised the court-imposed freeze on his assets.

"Legally, the court should allow me to withdraw money from Canadia Bank, but the Municipal Court chief always hinders my requests, and I am not able to pay for the services of my lawyer," he told the court.

Heng Pov remained silent for the rest of the hearing while the court questioned suspects Ly Rasy, a former police official, and Pheng Phai, a former police bureau chief of anti-drug trafficking.

Heng Veng, the fourth accused and Heng Pov's nephew, remains on the run from authorities.

Ly Rasy and Heng Veng's defence counsel, Long Dara, complained to the court that the case was dropped in 2000 due to the lack of suspects aside from fugitive Heng Veng, but that in 2006 the court decided to reopen the case and charged three individuals without conducting fresh investigations.

"It is very strange that in 2000 the court prosecutor decided to leave the case but later on decided to reopen the case ... without a re-investigation," Long Dara told the court, calling on the court to lift the charges against his clients.

But the victim's lawyer, Puth Theavy, replied that the court was "afraid" to work on the case while Heng Pov was police chief, and that now he was behind bars it was possible for the court to pursue justice for his clients.

He added that the attempted murder of Koh Santepheap editor Thong Uy Pang and his bodyguard Yim Chhoeun was an official police order rather than a case of individual revenge, which was a clear case of premeditation.

"I request that the court have a thorough consideration and to convict these men in a serious way," he said, also requesting the court pay US$300,000 in compensation costs for his two clients.

Court prosecutor Hing Bunchea also asked the court to convict the four accused according to Article 31 of Criminal Law, which carries a penalty of between 10 and 20 years.

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