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Heng Pov Sentenced in Absentia to 18 Years in Jail

Phnom Penh Municipal court sentences wanted former police commissioner, Mr. Heng Pov to 18 years in prison, and his close aide, Mr. Ly Rasy, and four other police officers to 16 years in prison each, and fined in the total sum of $300,000 for premeditated murder of investigating judge Sok Sethamony in 2003.

Trial judge Kim Ravy's sentence was read after the hearing on Monday. The Phnom Penh court convicted Mr. Heng Pov in his absence of conspiracy in connection with some crimes.

Mr. Heng Pov was charged with a number of crimes by the Phnom Penh court, after he fled Cambodia on July 23rd to Singapore. His lawyer, Mr. Ty Vandeth says that no evidence or witness shows that his client is judge Sethamony's killer, or any criminal confessed that he received Mr. Heng Pov's command to kill judge Sethamony.

Cambodia Center for Human Rights' director, Kem Sokha says that justice cannot be done immediately.

In a hearing Monday, Mr. Ly Rasy, Mr. Chum Sok Pheng, Mr. Hang Vutha, and Mr. Proum Sophierith, were present to clarify the case.

Phnom Penh Municipal court prosecutor, Mr. Sok Roeun says that the four persons were accused of killing judge Sok Sethamony, based on the testimonies of 21 witnesses, and a court official and a lawyer who ate with the late judge Sok Sethamony before the killing.

The defendants pleaded not guilty and said that they were beaten to put the blame on someone else. They also say that the sentence is unfair.

Judge Kim Ravy ruled the defendants' plea as groundless.

Recently, the Phnom Penh Municipal court issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Heng Pov, suspected of committing a number of crimes.

In a 9-page report, Heng Pov implicated a number of crimes to Prime Mininster Hun Sen and a number of top officials. He was arrested in Singapore for immigration offenses but was released later. His whereabout is unknown.