T HREE Africans jailed for trafficking heroin late last month had earlier been
given a letter while they were in T3 prison from a police agent, urging them to
pay $30,000 to buy their freedom.
The court refused permission to have
the letter read out during their second trial.
The letter written by
African police agent "Adam" - a former UNTAC soldier - said he had talked to the
"big boss in the court" who would free them if they could pay.
Sok Sam Oeun, who represented one of the accused, Nigerian Solomon Okeke, was
not allowed to read the letter by Municipal Court chief judge Oum Sarith - who
was also the trial judge - because it was "not necessary".
Sam Oeun had
previously introduced the letter during the African's first trial in May,
however Judge Sarith suspended that trial mid-way to re-examine the evidence.
"Adam", along with "Michael" (real name Samuel Bukgue), helped set up
the sting operation that nabbed Okeke, Ndele Kundenga from Zaire and Ghanaian
The three Africans were in the house for only a matter of
minutes before police arrived. Around eleven grams of heroin was found in
"Michael's" bedroom. More than 30 grams of white powder found in the house that
was thought to have been heroin was tested by the US Embassy and found not to be
There was no money found during the raid.
maintained that the three were tricked into the house. It was a set-up to later
extort money, he argued.
Thomas said he had been living at "Michael's"
house for three weeks; that he knew neither Okeke or Kundenga; that he had been
asleep in a bedroom when the police came; and that he had been forced to sign a
Kundenga said he had been staying in Phnom Penh with
Okeke and the pair accepted an invitation from "Michael" to visit his
Okeke, who lives in Bangkok and said he came to Phnom Penh to
renew his Thai visa, said he only accepted "Michael's" invitation to visit
"because he was black".
Okeke strongly protested his innocence, saying
that if he was indeed a drug trafficker he would not have opened the door for
He asked the judge why, if he was a trafficker, was it
necessary for "Michael" to lure him to the house. "Why couldn't Michael inform
the police of any illegal activities and the police come to arrest me in my
Prosecutor Yeth Chariya said "these black foreigners" used
Cambodia as a base to export drugs. Chariya, who continually referred to the
three as "black criminals", said they represented a great threat to the national
security of Cambodia.
Okeke, given the last word, criticized democracy in
Cambodia, saying that true democracy meant freeing people if there was
Sarith then convicted and sentenced the three:
five years each to Thomas and Kundenga, and ten years for Okeke "whose high
skill... threatened national security."
The Post understands that an
appeal will be lodged.