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Fallen Police Chief Faces More Charges

Jailed former Phnom Penh police chief Heng Pov is set to face Phnom Penh Muncipal Court Friday on charges of conspiracy to murder a state electric company official in 2005.

Elecricite du Cambodge branch officer Kim Daravuth was shot in the neck and paralyzed by gunmen following a dispute over an electricity bill with Heng Pov in mid-2005.

Heng Pov's lawyer, Kao Sopha, said Thursday there was no evidence linking the fallen police chief to the attempted killing.

"If we look over the legal documents by the police and the court, there is no evidence to punish Heng Pov," Kao Sopha said. "The court charges Heng Pov of conspiracy in connection with the murder, but no one confessed that Heng Pov is the one who ordered the killing. And the victim and witness haven't shown clearly who the [attempted] killers were."

"In this case, if we focus on the evidence, the court cannot punish Heng Pov," he said. "Although Heng Pov and Daravuth had a conflict, the court must find the evidence to charge Heng Pov."

Heng Pov was a powerful police official until he fled the country in 2006, when national police authorities issued a warrant for his arrest.

Heng Pov fled to Singapore and Malaysia, where he was seized by authorities and pled for asylum in a third country.

Malaysian authorities extradited Heng Pov to Cambodia in late 2006, but not before he wrote a letter accusing Prime Minister Hun Sen and National Police Chief Gen. Hok Lundy of ordering a 1997 grenade attack on Sam Rainsy Party supporters and the murder of popular singer Piseth Pilika.

He also accused both leaders of ordering the murder of Free Trade Union president Chea Vichea in 2004.

Hun Sen and Hok Lundy have denied the allegations as an asylum bid.

If convicted of ordering Kim Daravuth's shooting, Heng Pov faces an additional sentence of 10 years to life, to be added onto the 40 years and six months he is already serving for a battery of other crimes.

He has been found guilty of ordering the murder of Municipal Court judge Sok Sothamony in 2003, as well as possessing $400,000 in counterfeit bills and illegally detaining a suspect without trial.

He faces numerous additional criminal charges, including kidnapping, illegal detention, murder, and others.