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Court hands down two life sentences for drugs

Phnom Penh Municipal Court handed down life sentences to two Vietnamese nationals described as major drug traffickers, and gave a third 30 years in prison yesterday.

Keo Saroeum, 52, a former military officer of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, and his accomplice Bun Tha, 48, were both found guilty of drug producing and trafficking and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Saroeum’s wife, Pov Bopha, 41, was sentenced to 30 years. Each of the three was also fined 60 million riel ($15,000).

According to Judge Keo Mony, the trio was arrested by anti-drug police in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district in December 2012.

The husband and wife were major drug traffickers, said Major General Khieu Saman, deputy director of the anti-drug police department. “Our police spent many months following and investigating them,” he added.

After the arrest, police seized nearly 6.5 kilograms of drugs ready for sale – including crystal methamphetamines and heroin – as well as around 75 kilograms of chemicals used to manufacture drugs, drug production equipment and weapons, including AK-47 assault rifles, pistols and machine guns.

The accused traffickers and their defence lawyers could not be reached for comment yesterday, but a court clerk who asked not to be named told the Post that the husband and wife have already appealed the verdict.

Life sentences are rare in Cambodia, and this is the first this year, though four Thai women were given life sentences last summer for smuggling more than eight kilograms of cocaine.

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