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Heng Pov Defies Judge in Conspiracy Trial


Fallen city police chief Heng Pov refused to answer questions from a municipal judge Friday, as a trial on conspiracy to murder opened against him.

Heng Pov's lawyer also refused to answer questions from Phnom Penh Municipal Court Judge Chhay Kong, who gave Heng Pov 18 months on illegal weapons charges in a case in 2006.

No verdict was issued at the close of Friday's trial, but one is expected soon.

Heng Pov, who rose to power as Phnom Penh's municipal police chief, had sought a change of judge ahead of the trial, claiming Chhay Kong had unjustly sentenced to prison members of his household, including a housekeeper, gardener and dog-keeper, in a previous case.

"This is the first time I have been in a hearing when the accused refused to answer the judge," said Tong Heng, a court monitor for the Center for Social Development.

Heng Pov is charged with ordering a murder attempt on Elecricite du Cambodge branch officer Kim Daravuth, who was shot in the neck and paralyzed by gunmen following a dispute over an electricity bill with the former police chief in mid-2005.

If convicted, Heng Pov faces an additional sentence of 10 years to life, added to the 40 years and six months he is already serving for other crimes, including ordering the murder of Municipal Court judge Sok Sothamony in 2003, possessing $400,000 in counterfeit bills and illegally detaining a suspect without trial.

He faces further criminal charges, including kidnapping, illegal detention and murder.

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