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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Alleged head of drug ring dies in custody

Si La Loy (third right), photographed after his arrest in May, died of meningoencephalitis in hospital on Tuesday.
Si La Loy (third right), photographed after his arrest in May, died of meningoencephalitis in hospital on Tuesday. Photo supplied

Alleged head of drug ring dies in custody

The suspected leader of a drug ring died in custody on Tuesday after being sent to a Phnom Penh hospital, a Prisons Department official said yesterday.

Si La Loy, 42, was arrested in May along with two accomplices and charged with drug trafficking after a bust netted 56 kilograms of meth in Phnom Penh Thmey commune.

San Keo, the spokesperson for the Prisons Department, said La Loy died of meningoencephalitis, an inflammation of the brain.

“He also had HIV/AIDS, and he died at the Russian Hospital yesterday afternoon,” he said.

Keo said the ringleader, who media have reported holds an honorary oknha title, had been sent to the hospital several times while in custody. He said he passed away due to a combination of the inflammation and AIDS.

Dr Som Leakhena, who works at the Khema Clinic and has treated prisoners with Doctors Without Borders, said meningoencephalitis is often lethal if not treated immediately.

Leakhena said the disease could be caused by bacteria or a virus. If caused by bacteria, he said the incubation period is a maximum of five days, and if not treated immediately, the infected person could die within a few days.

In viral cases, a low immune system could be to blame. “It can explode one day, when their immune system is low,” he said. He said HIV-positive inmates were particularly at risk if they didn’t receive proper treatment due to their suppressed immune systems.

Additional reporting by Leonie Kijewski

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