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Health of Imprisoned Police Chief Worries Justice Advocate

The failing health of incarcerated former police chief Heng Pov is worrisome, a group warned Friday, as he is a potential witness in the 2004 murder of labor activist Chea Vichea.

The slain leader's brother, Chea Mony, who now heads the trade union his brother once led, said Friday he was concerned Heng Pov would die in jail before Chea Vichea's true killers are found.

Two men were hastily tried and imprisoned following Chea Vichea's murder, but his true killers are widely believed still at large.

Heng Pov, once Phnom Penh's police chief, is in prison on a rash of charges including murder and kidnapping.

He could have key information to find Chea Vichea's true killers, Chea Mony said. His family has not been able to ascertain his condition in prison, Chea Mony said, and his group fears the former police chief might be "drugged."

"We know that in the future, Heng Pov will be an important witness to Chea Vichea murder case," he said.

Thun Saray, head of the rights group Adhoc, said he had not seen Heng Pov himself.

"We have gone to the prison several times, but we were denied access to see Heng Pov," he said.

Prison officials declined comment.