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Former anti-drug chief Moek Dara is back in court

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Former anti-drug czar Moek Dara (centre) enters the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh yesterday. Photograph: Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post

Former anti-drug czar Moek Dara (centre) enters the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh yesterday. Photograph: Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post

The Court of Appeal yesterday resumed hearings in the case of former anti-drug chief Moek Dara and two associates convicted on a slew of drug trafficking and corruption charges.

Moek Dara and his own drug czar, Chea Leng, received life sentences on 25 counts. Morn Doeun, a one-time head of special operations who is at large, was sentenced to 25 years in absentia.

At the provincial court hearing last year, prosecutors – and more than 100 witnesses – detailed an elaborate crime ring that netted hundreds of thousands of dollars and saw hundreds of criminals set free over the course of four years.

The men have roundly denied all allegations, claiming they are innocent.

At the Appeal Court of Appeal yesterday, judges heard four cases related to drug possession and bribery. And once again, Dara’s lawyer sought to abrogate their client of all guilt. Pointing to documents in which Dara allegedly signed off on the release of a known drug suspect, Dara’s lawyers called the accusation questionable.

“The court shouldn’t be accusing my client based on documents of the anti-drug department because there is a different level of officials who are responsible,” said lawyer Ray Bunthoeun, adding that his client would not have had the right to authorise such a release.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kim Sarom at newsroom@phnompenhpost.com

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