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Touch Sovann (right) and Ly Theanmoam
Touch Sovann (right) and Ly Theanmoam exit a prison truck at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday before their hearing. Pha Lina

Drug dealing inside alleged

Four inmates serving time for prior offences in the capital’s Prey Sar prison went back to court yesterday on charges that they used and sold drugs inside correctional centre walls.

Keo Mony, presiding judge of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, identified the suspects as Touch Sovann, 33; Ly Theanmoam, 38; Nuth Keo Rachna, 32; and Hak Eang, 48.

In their former cases, Sovann and Keo Rachna were convicted on drug-trafficking charges and sent to prison for two and four years, respectively.

Theanmoam is serving five years after being found guilty of breach of trust, and Eang, who has been in and out of jail, is awaiting trial on drug charges in connection with a meth bust of more than 14 kilograms in 2013 that was described at the time as the largest in modern Cambodian history.

Eang has also been implicated in the case of Moek Dara, the former anti-drug czar sentenced to life in prison in 2012 for drug trafficking.

“They have daily used drugs inside the prison’s cells. They have also sold them to other prisoners in prison,” Mony said.

The municipal court prosecutor charged them with drug use and trafficking.

Song Sopheap, a police officer working at Prey Sar prison, told the court that the guards started to catch on to the alleged jailhouse drug ring in August 2013 when they found one package of methamphetamine powder in a pack of 555 cigarettes that they say belonged to Eang.

“When we allow all prisoners to come outside their prison cells for work, we also checked them strictly, but we did not find any drugs,” he said. “We were very surprised when we found [these].”

Under questioning in court yesterday, Eang said he would give the other suspects money to buy drugs for him, normally $300 for one transaction.

“I used it in order to cure my hypertension and diabetes because I heard that it can treat my disease,” he said.

The other suspects confessed to using the drugs but not dealing them.

Their verdicts will be handed down on March 3.



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