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Airport bust results in 28-year drug sentence

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday sentenced a 47-year-old Vietnamese woman to 28 years in prison for smuggling more than 1.5 kilograms of methamphetamines into Cambodia from India via Phnom Penh International Airport.

Presiding judge Sin Visal said that Nguyen Thi Kim Nhi – who was arrested last July – was guilty of “keeping, transporting and trafficking drugs” under article 40 of Cambodia’s Anti-Drug Law, and that in addition to her jail term, she was ordered to pay 80 million riel ($20,000) in fines.

“It is ordered that she be immediately expelled from Cambodia after she has completely served the term of her punishment in Cambodia,” Visal added.

Colonel Yeng Bunna, chief of the Ministry of Interior’s Anti-Drug Police Office, said that Cambodian police had arrested Nguyen on a tip-off from foreign authorities.

“We received the information about this drug trafficking from Singaporean anti-drug policemen. So we prepared the plan to arrest her at the Phnom Penh International Airport,” he said.

At her trial last month, Nguyen denied the accusations, saying she was unaware she was carrying drugs. The luggage containing the methamphetamines, she said at the time, had belonged to an Indian man named Bato, who covered her airfare and paid her $100 to bring the bag to Cambodia.

“The court’s decision was very unjust for me. I cannot accept it. I will appeal against it to the Appeal Court soon,” Nguyen said yesterday.

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