The trial of three men over drug-smuggling allegations took a twist yesterday when the prosecutor revealed their shipments had actually contained prohibited cold medicine.
Meas Chanpiseth, deputy prosecutor of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, said in his concluding remarks that Ministry of Health officials had found the confiscated drugs to be pills of Col-Col-Co, a cold medicine produced in South Korea and banned in the Kingdom as it contained pseudoephedrine, which is used in the manufacture of methamphetamines.
He requested that the charges against the men be changed from drug trafficking to importing medicine without permission, under the law on medicines management.
Teng Sophal, 36, director of Mega Dragon Logistics (Cambodia), Chea Po Hok, 28, the company’s logistics officer, and Heng Chea, 69, had been arrested in Phnom Penh in December in connection with the shipping of drugs from South Korea to Cambodia, presiding judge Kor Vandy said.
The three were tried yesterday over allegations of smuggling more than 2,000 kilograms of pseudoephedrine drugs into the Kingdom over the past two years.
Teng Sophal and Chea Po Hok were arrested last November while transporting a shipment in two cars.
Police seized 74 cases containing seven million pills. Heng Chea was arrested the same day.
Teng Sophal claimed he did not own the shipments, nor had he been aware of their illegal nature.
He said his company had been hired by a Cambodian, Bou Hael, and a Thai national called Peter to transport the cargo from Preah Sihanouk port to Phnom Penh.
“I agreed to transport these shipments because I was told they were silica gels,” Teng Sophal told the court.
The shipments were then to be exported to Bou Hael and Peter in Bangkok, he said.
Heng Chea said he had introduced Teng Sophal to Bou Hael when his old friend asked him to recommend a local logistics company.
He was paid a commission by Teng Sophal for every shipment that arrived in Cambodia.
Bou Hael and Peter were charged by the Phnom Penh court in absentia in 2011.
The court has since issued warrants for their arrests.
The verdict will be handed down on March 19.