A disgraced former police chief yesterday went on trial at the Supreme Court over a 2007 charge for possession of $30,000 in counterfeit money.
Heng Pov, who was a senior police chief in Phnom Penh, has already amassed about 100 years in prison for various crimes, including conspiracy to murder and possession of the fake cash.
Mr Pov, 60, was accused of possessing the counterfeit money in 2006 at his home in Kandal province’s Takhmao city.
In the courtroom, Mr Pov asked the judges not to waste time questioning him but to get his sentencing over and done with, since he knew he would not receive justice.
“I have already been imprisoned for 12 years,” Mr Pov said to reporters before the trial, adding he had been framed by colleagues, including his enemy Lieutenant General Mak Chito, who is now deputy national police chief.
Mr Pov said he had been sentenced in seven different cases, claiming that if he should be behind bars, then so should many other police officials.
In 1992, a dozen bandits broke into a gold shop near Olympic Stadium and made it all the way to Kampong Speu province before police cornered them in a small house.
Mr Pov’s colleagues wanted to go in shooting, but he took a megaphone and approached through a rice field, urging them to surrender and avoid bloodshed.
Instead, they opened fire and Mr Pov went down in a hail of bullets, which shredded his leg. It was later amputated.
“I lost my leg in 1992, chasing thieves in Kampong Speu,” Mr Pov said, adding he had been targeted by other police because he refused to allow bribery.
Mr Pov’s wife and his children have been granted asylum in Finland. He said he wanted to hire a lawyer but could not afford to because the court froze his bank account.
According to a statement from Mr Pov read by a court clerk, Lt Gen Chito framed him over the counterfeit cash because they were enemies.
He said Lt Gen Chito twice led forces to check his house, including once without a court warrant, because he knew that he and his wife had $300,000 cash on the property from the sale of some land.
He accused Lt Gen Chito of taking that money for himself and planting the counterfeit cash outside his home.
Mr Pov also said Lt Gen Chito and his police forces colluded with each other to confine and illegally extort money from people, as well as killing many witnesses who knew about their activities.
However, Supreme Court prosecutor Chan Darareaksmey said Mr Pov’s possession of the counterfeit cash was a breach of the law.
“Please uphold the decision of lower courts,” Mr Darareaksmey said to the judges.
Nou Chantha, the lawyer appointed by the Supreme Court to defend Mr Pov, said Lt Gen Chito broke the law when he led police forces to check the property of a colleague he was having a dispute with.
“Lt Gen Chito led his police forces to check my client’s house and took $300,000 from him without a court warrant, which was an illegal act,” Mr Chantha said.
He added that police could not verify whether the $30,000 cash allegedly found outside Mr Pov’s home was indeed counterfeit without specialist testimony from the National Bank.
“There is no evidence to incriminate my client in this case,” Mr Chantha said. “I ask the judges to acquit my client.”
Supreme Court presiding judge Soeng Panhavuth said the verdict would be announced on September 27.
In the early 1990s, Mr Pov rose to become chief of Phnom Penh’s anti-drug police department. He moved over to the National Authority for Combating Drugs, then became deputy director of the Ministry of Interior’s anti-drug department.
Lt Gen Chito was unavailable for comment.