Cambodian Ex-police Chief Prevented from Going to Finland

In a sudden turn of events, Heng Pov was deported from Malaysia back to Cambodia late last week – in spite of having recently won a legal bid in Malaysia’s High Court to avoid a return to his home country. He is currently detained in the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, facing 18 years in jail. Before his return, Heng Pov spent five months in Malaysia and Singapore. During this time, he was offered asylum in Finland.

The former Cambodian police chief was sentenced to 18 years in jail in absentia in September in Phnom Penh for allegedly masterminding to kill a judge. 49-year-old Heng Pov, who also served as a personal advisor to Prime Minister Hun Sen and under-secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior Affairs, managed to flee to Singapore in July and then on to Malaysia.

He has been detained in Malaysia since October 3 for overstaying his entry pass. The Cambodian court believes that he was responsible for the murder of Phnom Penh judge Sok Sethamony, while a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation insisted that he was involved in six other cases including illegal confinement, murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, and illegal weapon possession and usage.

When Finland granted Heng Pov a visa earlier this month, it led to a great deal of political mud-throwing between Cambodia and Finland. As previously reported on, Finland has expressed fears that Heng Pov might face violations of his rights if deported home. The Finnish visa would not allow him to travel anywhere else in the European Union. Cambodian authorities reacted angrily by offering to send all their convicts to Finland, adding that it was “regrettable” that Finland would “protect criminals”.

Yesterday, Amnesty International Malaysia condemned the manner in which Heng Peo was deported. According to the Malaysian Online News site New Straits Times, the organization’s executive director Josef Roy Benedict said the Immigration Department is undermining the right to justice and due process by playing the role of a judge as well as an enforcer.
     “Every person has the right to equality before the court and to a fair trial by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law.”
     He added that Heng Peo’s deportation was a clear example of how the Immigration Department has failed to respect the asylum process and disregarded international customary laws and principles.

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