Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Background documents related to Heng Pov's claim

Heng Pov (Photo: RFA)

The following documents provide some background information on the claims made by Heng Pov in his 9-page statement regarding drug trafficking and death threats made against him. With the exception of newspaper clips, the English version below is a summary the original documents in Khmer.

Document # 1 (1 page)

This document is an official form assigning the duty of officer Pov Chenda.


Attention: All institutions and all units of the Armed Forces
Issued by: General Staff of the Military Police (Gendarmerie)
To: Lieutenant Pov Chenda, bodyguard of the Military Police Commander
Mission: Security
Signed by: General Men Vichet
Date: December 30, 1997 (one-year validity).

Click here to read the original document in Khmer (Adobe Acrobat required)

Document # 2 (3 pages)

This is a letter from Major Keo Seng Lay to Second PM Hun Sen.


January 15, 1998 letter from Major Keo Seng Lay to Second Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Keo Seng Lay is Head of Bureau # 4 at the Headquarters of the Armored Division at the Ministry of Defense’s General Staff. He asked Hun Sen to help protect him because he felt that high-ranking officers at the Armored Division, who are involved in drug trafficking, wanted to kill him following his participation in the seizure of 5,800 kg of marijuana on January 7, 1998 near a barrack of the Armored Division known under the name ACO [in Kompong Speu province]. On January 6, 1998, Colonel Pen Hot, Deputy Commander of the Armored Division, ordered Lieutenant Pheuk Sar to carry [the above-mentioned] marijuana out of his home to hide it [near the army barrack] following the arrest of his brother-in-law [Pov] Chenda, an officer of the Military Police, by the Police’s Anti-Drug Unit led by Heng Pov.

In a hand-written annotation dated January 26, 1998 at the bottom of the letter, Hun Sen asked the competent authorities to ensure the safety of Keo Seng Lay.

Click here to read the original document in Khmer (Adobe Acrobat required)

Document # 3 (7 pages)

This is a letter from Heng Pov to PM Hun Sen.


March 9, 1998 letter from Heng Pov to Hun Sen. In his capacity as Deputy Secretary-General of the National Authority To Combat Drug Trafficking and as Head of the Anti-Drug Unit, Heng Pov wrote to Hun Sen in his capacity as Second Prime Minister and Co-President of the National Authority To Combat Drug Trafficking. He elaborated on an assassination attempt against him on March 6, 1998 by the Military Police that is linked to drug traffickers. The incident followed three events:

1- On December 28, 1996, a large quantity of drug destined for Oslo (Norway) was seized in Sihanoukville. Drug trafficker Lu Yiu Kuei from Hong Kong was arrested but had to be released shortly after because he was protected by Military Police Commander Kieng Savuth as well as many other high-ranking government officials.

2- On June 17, 1997, 6,054 Kg of marijuana hidden in a container of garments were seized in Sihanoukville. The drug traffickers managed to escape but they were arrested the following day. One of them was Pov Chenda, a bodyguard of Military Police Commander Kieng Savuth’s and his brother-in-law; the other one was Pov Saroeun, a brother of Pov Chenda’s and a soldier in the Armored Division. I was obliged to release them because they were under the protection of Kieng Savuth. The Military Police officers who intervened on behalf of Kieng Savuth had already intervened in favor of [the above-mentioned] Lu Yiu Kuei. The wife of Colonel Pen Hot, Deputy Commander of the Armored Division, also intervened in favor of Pov Chenda and Pov Saroeun. According to our investigation, the above-mentioned marijuana belonged to Lu Yiu Kuei and an accomplice named Kin, and was transported by Kieng Savuth’s men.

3- On January 6, 1998, my forces got the information that Pov Chenda, Kieng Savuth’s bodyguard, was in possession of over 10 tons of marijuana intended for sale (1 ton hidden in Kien Svay district, 5 tons near Phnom Penh, and 6 tons at the barracks of the Armored Division in Kompong Speu province). We got Pov Chenda arrested that day. On January 7, 1998, over 5 tons of marijuana were discovered near the barracks of the Armored Division in Kompong Speu province.

On several occasions I have received death threats from Kieng Savuth and his men. On March 5, 1998, Pov Chenda was sentenced to 10 years in prison by the Kandal Provincial Court. On March 6, 1998, a group of Military Police officers threatened our Anti-Drug Unit with reprisals. In the evening of that day, some 100 heavily armed men from the Military Police attacked the headquarters of the Anti-Drug Unit and created a violent incident with the obvious intention to kill me. Some of them had been under investigation because we suspected them of being linked to the Triad or Chinese Mafia from Hong Kong and Macao that is involved in drug trafficking.

Click here to read the original document in Khmer (Adobe Acrobat required)

For details on the March 6, 1998 incident, see Cambodia Daily’s article dated March 9, 1998 (below).


Monday, March 9, 1998
Police Turf War Blamed For Gunfire

By Lor Chandara and Jeff Smith

Hard feelings between military police and anti-drug police, perhaps over recent drug crackdowns, were blamed for gunfire in downtown Phnom Penh on Friday night, topping off a week of violence in the capital.

Heavily armed Phnom Penh military policemen in two trucks surrounded Interpol headquarters near Street 172 and Pasteur at about 9:30 pm Friday, minutes after seven of their colleagues had been disarmed and detained for allegedly making threats against national anti-drug police.

Military police with assault rifles opened fire on the Interpol headquarters and on the nearby residence of Heng Peo, deputy chief of national anti-drug police, witnesses said.

One bullet went into the wall of the bedroom where Heng Peo was said to be sleeping at the time. No casualties were reported.

Military police carried at least one B-40 rocket, although it wasn't fired, according to a drug official. At least one grenade was launched, Military police retreated when a special national justice unit and drug police fired into the air, officials said.

Ministry of Interior officials met Saturday to investigate and defuse the dispute.

"The problem has been solved," Em, Sam An, Interior secretary of state, claimed Sunday morning. He added that he had ordered the parties not to provoke each other into additional confrontations.

Both he and Khuon Sophan, chief of municipal penal police, characterized the dispute as personal, not political.

Heng Peo and other drug officials said they believed the attack was an act of revenge for increased crackdowns on illegal drug activities, some of which have involved military police. Last week, in Kandal province, a military policeman was sentenced to 10 years on drug charges.

"It is revenge from the criminals for what I've been doing to prevent the drug trade," Heng Peo said Saturday.

A private security officer in Phnom Penh familiar with the rivalries between Cambodia's security forces said the clash was likely the result of a recent arrest or investigation.

The international community is pushing Cambodia's Interpol to take action against cross-border criminal activity, and if you do that you are going to find military police units protecting operations," said the security officer, who asked not to be named.

Friday night's gunfire went on sporadically for approximately 15 minutes and was heard and seen blocks away, witnesses said. It capped the most intense week of violence in the capital since the factional fighting last July.

In the span of seven days, three were killed in a drug bust, a Funcinpec general was murdered and a bomb armed with three B40 rockets was planted in a sugar-cane cart near the Central Post Office. The week also was marked by the conviction of deposed first prime minister, Norodom Ranariddh on charges of illegally importing weapons.

Among those who agreed that Friday night's shooting was fueled by turf rivalries between military and anti-drug police, there were differing views as to who prompted the clash.

The events apparently started when a group of municipal military police armed with pistols stopped to drink beer at a small family-owned restaurant across the street from Interpol headquarters.

Neighbors allegedly overheard the military policemen making threats to shoot at the anti-drug police, and notified Interpol officials. Anti-drug officials said they reported the threats to the national police, which sent a unit to confiscate the pistols and detain seven military policemen.

Shortly after the seven were detained, two groups of military police arrived in trucks with AK-47s and grenade launchers. They shot at the fence outside Interpol piercing the corrugated aluminum fence in 15 spots.

They also went down the road to Pasteur Street and fired on Heng Peo's house, shattering the back windshield of his truck and blowing a hole in one of the thick window panes leading to a bedroom.

On Saturday, Heng Peo's residence was surrounded by armed guards. Heng Peo showed where the bullet entered the room and went through the wall near the bed. He said he had been sleeping in the bedroom at the time. After the shooting, he fled to another part of the house.

"For myself, I'm not scared," he said of Friday's shooting and telephone threats against him. "But I'm scared for my family."

Heng Peo said he will ease the anti-drug enforcement efforts.

"I've made the crackdowns on the drug dealers for the sake of the nation," Heng Peo said. "But in the end, I receive such suffering from the criminals. I’m leaving the responsibility for the higher leaders to solve the problem."

Meanwhile, back at the Interpol compound, the seven original military policemen were seen late Saturday morning still in their green military uniforms, resting in hammocks and on cots.

They said they had been detained for a few hours under the watch of national police with AK-47s, and weren't yet allowed to go home because a superior at Phnom Penh Military Police headquarters had ordered them to stay put.

The military policemen acknowledged they were armed when drinking at the restaurant the night before, but, denied that they had made any threats against the anti-drug police.

"We were arrested for no reason," one said. "We didn't say anything about the drug police." (Additional reporting by Chris Decherd)

= = =
Thursday, March 12, 1998
Anti-Drug Official Says Plotters Out to Kill Him

By Pin Sisovann and Lor Chandara

Cambodia's deputy chief of anti-drug police said Wednesday there have been plots to kill him since a military police officer was arrested in a drug sting earlier this year.

“They planned to have a car crash into mine and if I got out of the car, they would use a gun with a silencer to shoot and kill me in a crowd,” said Heng Peo, who would not identify the suspected plotters. “They will invent a story saying that I provoked the attack,” he predicted.

Heng Peo’s remarks come five days after military police with assault rifles and an M-79 launcher fired at Interpol headquarters and his residence nearby. One bullet went through the wall of the bedroom where Heng Peo said he was sleeping at the time.

Military police couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Wednesday. But some have said the incident resulted from the wrongful detainment of seven of their colleagues on suspicion of making threats against the anti-drug police.

Drug officials including Heng Peo have attributed Friday night's shooting to last week’s conviction of Pao Chenda, a military police officer in Kandal province, on drug smuggling charges.

Heng Peo said he heard over ICOM radio an order from a commander to send four tanks to Heng Peo's house. “They wou1d be happy if I die and they are free from prosecution,” he said.

Friday night's shooting also has fueled a dispute over radio communications. Military police were upset over the Ministry of Interior's decision during the shooting to cut off their radio communication so they were unable to call for help.

Ouk Mara, deputy chief of the municipal military police, said military police will no longer use the telecommunications system provided by the Ministry of Interior. Interior chief of general staff Mao Chandara said the ministry cut communication during the shooting to prevent the confrontation from getting worse. Service was restored the next day.

= = =
Monday, March 16, 1998
Heng Peo Says He Won't Flee

By Saing Soenthrith

Cambodia's deputy chief of anti-drug police on Sunday denied reports dial he is in hiding and will seek asylum in Australia or another country.

“I am here; I am staying in Cambodia,” Heng Peo said in a brief telephone interview from his farm in Kandal province, where he said be was taking a day off.

Close aides, however, said Sunday that they have heard that Heng Peo will indeed leave Cambodia.

The reports come amid open hostility between anti-drug and military police, allegedly over drug crackdowns.

A recent US State Department report noted that Cambodia has made some progress at rooting out corruption.

Heng Peo claimed last week that plots to kill him have existed since a military police officer was arrested in a marijuana bust earlier this year.

His comments came on the heels of an incident in which military police armed with assault rifles shot at his Phnom Penh house.

One bullet went through the wall of the bedroom where, Heng Peo said, he bad been sleeping at the time.

Heng Peo said Sunday he is "very upset" at news reports, such as one transmitted on the BBC, that stated he has gone into hiding and is seeking to leave Cambodia.

While Heng Peo was adamant Sunday about not going abroad and not hiding, a family member said Heng Peo was staying with relatives in Phnom Penh rather than remaining at his house on Pasteur Street.

Heng Peo said he is taking more precautions since the military police shot at his residence and the nearby Interpol headquarters.

Heng Peo hasn’t said whom he suspects is plotting to kill him, but he has suggested a scenario.

“They planned to have a car crash into mine and if I got out of the car, they would use a gun with a silencer to shoot and kill me in a crowd,'" he predicted last week.

“They will invent a story saying that I provoked the attack," Heng Peo said.

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