The family of former Phnom Penh police chief Heng Pov has asked the courts to unfreeze nearly US$1 million seized after their father’s arrest, saying that they have had to drop out of university and were living in misery since authorities clamped down on the assets.
“I’ve requested from the court to be able to withdraw money from my father’s bank account but they ignored me. Our lives depended on our father, but after he was detained we’ve had nothing to support ourselves,” said Pov Vanna, one of three daughters still living in Cambodia.
Heng Pov’s wife and his three other children are currently living in Finland, where Heng Pov was granted asylum in 2007 before being abruptly returned to Cambodia by Malaysian authorities.
Heng Pov’s lawyer, Kao Soupha, also said his client has asked that the court’s unfreeze the $930,000 remaining in his bank accounts so that his family can support themselves.
Police have confiscated Heng Pov’s home in Chruoy Changvar and $300,000 in cash from his house in Takhmao, 10 kilometres south of Phnom Penh, where 25-year-old Pov Vanna and her sisters live.
Heng Pov, who while in power was a much-feared police boss, is currently serving a total of 58 years in prison for a battery of charges, including murder, counterfeiting, extortion and kidnapping.
Heng Pov could face an additional 30 years in prison if convicted of two more counts of attempted murder later this year in connection with assassination plots against national military police commander Sao Sokha and Koh Santepheap publisher Thong Uy Pang.
The Sao Sokha case is expected to go to trial in November or December, while the Thong Uy Pang trial has yet to be scheduled, Kao Soupha told the Post Sunday.
Kao Soupha called both cases invalid. “For the attempted assassination of Sao Sokha, there is no specific evidence against [Heng Pov],” he said.
“In the case of Thong Uy Pang, the court has investigated this for years and did nothing while Heng Pov was in power.”
Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodian Defender’s Project, said that while the children’s earnings are off-limits, the government has the right to confiscate money and property if they are proven to have been acquired through corrupt means and can seize inherited assets in order to compensate victims.